Identification of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulty in early-stage dementia

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Eating, drinking and swallowing (EDS) difficulty is common in dementia and earlier identification could reduce morbidity, mortality, healthcare costs and improve quality of care. A proactive and condition-specific strategy for identifying EDS difficulty at an early stage for people living with dementia has yet to be developed. Before this can be achieved, holistic person-centred early indicators of EDS difficulty in early-stage dementia are needed and more understanding of barriers to early identification is required. Hence, the aim of this thesis is to inform earlier identification of EDS difficulty for people living with dementia. By employing an integrated multi-method approach, involving published evidence, personal experience, and expert opinion, it was possible to provide insights to inform early identification and discover key indicators of EDS difficulty in early-stage dementia. Lack of awareness and service pressures may explain why people living with dementia present late for help with EDS difficulties. A population-based intervention, providing information and raising awareness of EDS difficulty and dementia is necessary in the opinion of experts. This research has therefore addressed specific knowledge gaps showing how EDS difficulties might be identified. Further practice development plans will require careful facilitation, taking full account of postpandemic clinical context. Early awareness, identification and education for people living with dementia are the key tenets of this research.
Date of AwardAug 2023
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for the Economy
SupervisorOrla Duffy (Supervisor), George Kernohan (Supervisor) & Mo Henderson (Supervisor)


  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Swallowing
  • Dementia

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