CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Int Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2021; 25(02): e185-e192
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1708896
Original Research

Routine Use of Swallowing Outcome Measures Following Head and Neck Cancer in a Multidisciplinary Clinic Setting

1  Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
2  Evidence-Based Practice Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom
3  Regional Maxillofacial Unit, University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Kate Grayson
4  Statistics by Design, London, United Kingdom
Clare F. Probert
1  Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations


Introduction Chemoradiotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC) can have a major impact on swallowing function and health-related quality of life.

The use of outcome measures in early detection of patients with swallowing problems provides the opportunity for targeting speech and language therapy (SLT) interventions to aid adaption and promote better clinical outcomes.

Objective The purpose of the present study was to assess relationships between four outcomes measures over time, in a cohort of HNC patients, treated by (chemo-)radiotherapy.

Methods Data were collected at 3 months and 12 months, on 49 consecutive patients with primary squamous cell cancer of the oropharynx, nasopharynx or hypopharynx stage T1–4, N0–2b, M0 disease.

Results Out of 49 eligible patients, 45 completed assessment at 3 months and 20 at 12 months. The 3-month outcomes gave a strong indication of performance at 1 year. There were several strong correlations found between measures. The strongest was between the 3-month Performance Status Scale for Head and Neck Cancer (PSSHN) and the 12-month PSSHN (rs = 0.761, n = 17), the 12-month PSSHN and the 12-month Functional Oral Intake Scale (FOIS) (rs = 0.823, n = 20), and the 12-month University of Washington Head and Neck Quality of Life (UWQoL) swallow and the 12-month Water Swallow Test (WST) capacity (rs = 0.759, n = 17).

Conclusion The UW-QoL swallow item and WST are easy to incorporate into routine care and should be used as part of a standard assessment of swallow outcome. These measures can serve to help screen patients for dysfunction and focus allocation of resources for those who would benefit from more comprehensive assessment and intervention by SLT.


Preliminary data presented as poster at BAHNO 2017.

Publication History

Received: 21 July 2019

Accepted: 09 January 2020

Publication Date:
23 June 2020 (online)

© 2020. Fundação Otorrinolaringologia. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commecial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

Thieme Revinter Publicações Ltda.
Rua do Matoso 170, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, CEP 20270-135, Brazil