A group of researchers in Italy is calling management of dysphagia a priority issue for nursing homes after studying the swallowing disorder and its role in mortality.

Led by Nikolina Jukic Peladic, Ph.D., of IRCCS-INRCA, a geriatric research institute, the team studied the prevalence of dysphagia in 31 Italian nursing homes. Participants included 1,490 long-stay nursing home residents, all older than 65. 

As part of the project, the researchers looked at the role of nutritional therapies on clinical outcomes, including nutritional status, pressure ulcers, hospitalizations and mortality.

Patients in the Italian study were assessed at baseline and at six and 12 months. The study put the dysphagia rate at 12.8%, and the researchers found that mortality, weight loss and pressure ulcer rates were all significantly higher among diagnosed subjects.

The study, in February’s JAMDA, the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, comes as U.S. operators are being urged to better evaluate and address swallowing disorders through speech language pathology as part of the transition to the Patient-Driven Payment Model.