Dysphagia, Fear of Choking and Preventive Measures in Patients with Huntington's Disease: The Perspectives of Patients and Caregivers in Long-Term Care

K. Kalkers*, J.M.G.A. Schols, E.W. van Zwet, R.A.C. Roos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives To explore the prevalence of dysphagia and fear of choking in patients with Huntington's disease (HD) as well as preventive measures, both those applied and those not included in managing dysphagia. Also, to investigate related problems encountered by their formal and informal caregivers. Design A multi-center observational cross-sectional study Setting and Participants 158 HD patients, recruited from six Dutch nursing homes specialized in HD, and their formal and informal caregivers Measurements Patients were assessed by means of questionnaires enquiring about dysphagia, fear of choking and measures to manage dysphagia. Also, questionnaires were administered about awareness of dysphagia symptoms, cognition and anxiety. Because we expected individuals with greater care dependency to have a higher severity of dysphagia, we distinguished between a care-independent and a care-dependent group of HD patients. Results In the total group, 90.5% of HD patients had one or more dysphagia symptoms. The prevalence of FoC in HD patients and the formal and informal caregivers' fears about choking in HD patients was 45.7%, 19.0% and 59.5%, respectively, for care-independent patients and 58.7%, 50.1% and 77.5% for care-dependent patients. The score on the Huntington's Disease Dysphagia Scale was a predictor for fear of FoC in care-independent patients. Speech-language therapy, supervision during eating and drinking and adaptation of food and drink consistency were the most frequently applied measures to manage dysphagia, a combination was used in most HD patients. Conclusions In HD patients, the prevalence of dysphagia is high and fear of choking is common among both patients and caregivers. A more severe degree of dysphagia is a predictor of FoC in care-independent HD patients. A combination of measures was used to manage dysphagia in most HD patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-338
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition Health & Aging
Issue number4
Early online date4 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Huntington's disease
  • dysphagia
  • fear
  • cognition
  • awareness
  • TOOL


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