Swallowing (Dysphagia) Assessment Consensus Definition

Any disruption, impairment, or disorder of the process of deglutition (the action or process of swallowing) that compromises the safety, efficiency, or adequacy of hydration and nutritional intake constitutes dysphagia.

The assessment process leads to diagnosis of the presence or absence of a pediatric swallowing disorder (dysphagia).  

A thorough assessment provides the basis for:

  • a diagnosis of swallowing dysfunction (dysphagia)
  • a statement of severity (e.g. mild, moderate, severe) and/or risk, e.g. low, moderate, high risk  (World Health Organization, 2002); (Skeat & Perry, 2005)
  • a statement of prognosis (helps to manage intervention resources and promotes accountability)
  • the development of a comprehensive management plan
  • facilitating inclusion of all relevant healthcare professionals
  • achieving the best possible safety and management of swallowing outcomes for the child

Refer to: Appendix 2 - Components of Clinical Decision Making