How do people with Motor Neurone Disease experience dysphagia? A qualitative investigation of personal experiences

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Lisiecka, Dominika
Kelly, Helen
Jackson, Jeanne
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Introduction: Motor Neurone Disease is a rapidly progressing, fatal and relatively rare neurodegenerative disease of unknown etiology. People diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease develop a range of symptoms including dysphagia (swallowing impairments). Although generally recognized to cause serious medical and psycho-social consequences, little is known how this population experiences dysphagia. Aim: To investigate the experiences of dysphagia from the perspective of people diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Method: This study employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to investigate the experiences of dysphagia in ten people with Motor Neurone Disease who participated in individual, multiple interviews (n = 44) and meal-time observations. Results: Participants’ experiences of dysphagia were inseparable from their broader experience of Motor Neurone Disease. Apart from specific circumstances and when dysphagia was severe, dysphagia was not experienced as a constant issue for participants. Participants reported a changed perception of food and fear of choking. They generally aimed to manage dysphagia independently rather than seeking professional help and employed strategies such as choosing easy to swallow foods and limiting mealtime distractions. Conclusion: This study provides a unique contribution in advancing our understanding of dysphagia in Motor Neurone Disease. Professionals need to view dysphagia within the disease as a whole, and recognize personal values, preferences and coping strategies of people with Motor Neurone Disease, in the management of dysphagia.
Motor Neurone Disease , Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis , Deglutition disorders , Dysphagia , Qualitative research , Perception , IPA
Lisiecka, D., Kelly, H. and Jackson, J. (2019) 'How do people with Motor Neurone Disease experience dysphagia? A qualitative investigation of personal experiences', Disability and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1630487
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© 2019, Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Disability and Rehabilitation on 28 June 2019, available online: