Transdisciplinary Screening and Intervention for Nutrition, Swallowing, Cognition and Communication: A Case Study
Keywords:Transdisciplinary, Dietitian, Speech pathologist, Screening, Early intervention, Workforce
AbstractBackground: Transdisciplinary health research and clinical practice is supported by numerous Australian health workforce documents and the broader transdisciplinary research literature. This research assessed the impact of early screening and limited intervention for nutrition, swallowing, cognition, and communication deficits in medical admissions in a large metropolitan hospital.
Methods and Findings: Validated screening tools were selected and consensus for interventions were obtained by dietetic and speech pathology disciplines. Intensive training was undertaken to familiarize staff members with the screening documents and project scope. Ethics approval was obtained. Participants included 179 patients aged ≥65 years admitted to the emergency department or medical unit. The project significantly reduced referral time to both disciplines, and time to full assessment in dietetics but not speech pathology. Results found 43% of patients were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, and 14 patients had oral intake ceased due to swallowing difficulties.
Conclusions: This study has demonstrated that transdisciplinary screening and intervention may work within dietetics and speech pathology, providing an innovative extension to practice. Further alternatives using this model include the use of allied health assistants or less-experienced clinicians, while opportunities exist for transdisciplinary practices within other healthcare disciplines.
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