The experiences of adults with intellectual disability and dysphagia
: an exploratory study

  • Rachael J Kasch

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    Background: Very little is known about the experiences of adults with Intellectual Disability (ID) and dysphagia. Research completed with other population groups suggests dysphagia can lead to depression and social isolation. Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) dysphagia management guidance currently focuses predominantly on reducing the physical risks associated with dysphagia.

    Aims and Objectives: The overall aim of the study is to explore the physical, social and psychological experiences of adults with ID living with dysphagia. The three objectives of the study are to develop recommendations for services working with adults with ID and dysphagia, provide a platform for a marginalised group to voice their opinions on a topic which is absent in the literature and to promote inclusive research with adults with ID.

    Method: A qualitative method underpinned by an interpretivist paradigm was adopted. Adults with ID were involved in the design of the study. Twelve semi-structured interviews were completed with participants with ID and dysphagia. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.

    Results: People with ID can be meaningfully involved in qualitative research. Thematic analysis generated four main themes; Psychological responses to food and drink, Independence, Physical health consequences of dysphagia and SLT services. Findings indicate that along with the known physical health risks, dysphagia can also have a significant psychological and social impact on adults with ID.

    Conclusions: Recommendations are made for service improvements to dysphagia services. The findings indicate services should provide equal consideration of the physical, social and psychological impact of dysphagia as standard practice.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorMartin Bollard (Supervisor) & Joanne Opie (Supervisor)

    Cite this