Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Special Education

First Advisor

Tamara B. Cranfill

Department Affiliation

Special Education

Second Advisor

Melanie A. Johnson

Department Affiliation

Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing

Third Advisor

Camille Skubik-Peplaski

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Abstract

The role of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in the assessment and treatment of dysphagia in individuals living with HIV/AIDS is relatively absent from the literature. Dysphagia is described as difficulty swallowing that can be caused by oral indicators, structural dysfunction, and neurological disease (Bladon & Ross, 2007; Bobba et al., 2007; Nkuize et al., 2010). Dysphagia is a prevalent symptom secondary to the HIV/AIDS virus, yet dysphagia in the HIV/AIDS population often goes untreated (Bladon & Ross, 2007). One way to improve assessment and treatment of dysphagia is to ensure medical professionals are knowledgeable of the communication and swallowing disorders that can occur in this population. There is an increasing demand for the professional services of SLPs in the clinical assessment and treatment of individuals with dysphagia secondary to HIV/AIDS.

A survey design for the current study examined trends, attitudes, and opinions of individuals living with HIV/AIDS by studying a sample of that population (Creswell, 2009). The design allowed a web-based survey to be available to individuals living with HIV/AIDS while maintaining anonymity of the participants.

Twenty-one individuals living with HIV/AIDS responded to this survey. All participants reported experiencing at least one symptom related to dysphagia. Eight participants indicated receiving services from an SLP for dysphagia symptoms. Overall, results from the current study suggest SLPs are not involved in the care of individuals with dysphagia symptoms secondary to HIV/AIDS.

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