Study: Nursing Homes Need to Prioritize Dysphagia Identification, Management

February 27, 2019

Dysphagia, a difficulty swallowing liquids and/or solids, is more common in nursing homes than many realize. That’s why identifying and managing this condition should be a priority, according to a new study in the February issue of JAMDA.

In “Dysphagia in Nursing Home Residents: Management and Outcomes,” the authors studied 1,490 long-stay nursing home residents in Italy. All participants underwent a standardized comprehensive assessment, and the researchers found a 12.8% prevalence of dysphagia. The mortality rate for dysphagic subjects was significantly higher than for those without the condition (27.7% versus 16.8%). At the same time, those individuals with dysphagia also had a higher incidence of weight loss and pressure ulcers, while nearly twice as many dysphagic patients (compared to those without the condition) required feeding assistance. Interestingly, the researchers found that dysphagia was not associated with a higher risk of hospitalization.

The authors observed that the high prevalence of weight loss and pressure ulcers in dysphagic patients might be related to their “impaired clinical conditions.” However, they further noted that “inadequate feeding assistance” might have contributed to these issues. They added, “Our results do not show that artificial nutrition (i.e., parenteral and enteral feeding) reduces weight loss and pressure ulcer prevalence in older subjects with dysphagia compared with texture-modified diets (such as pureed foods and/or thickened liquids).”

This study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy; Health Planning Service, Regional Health Authority of Umbria, Perugia, Italy; Department of Geriatrics, Neurosciences and Orthopaedics, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy; Department of Medical Science, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; and Scientific Direction, IRCCS-INRCA, Ancona, Italy.

Click here for more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editor for an interview, please email




JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PA/LTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.