Translating Ultrasound into Clinical Practice for the Assessment of Swallowing and Laryngeal Function: A Speech and Language Pathology-Led Consensus Study
Allen, Jodi E.; orcid: 0000-0001-7918-5463; email: email@example.com
Ma, Joan K.-Y.
Lowell, Soren Y.
Volkmer, Anna; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dysphagia, volume 37, issue 6, page 1586-1598
Ultrasound (US) has an emerging evidence base for the assessment of swallowing and laryngeal function. Accessibility and technological advances support the use of US as a clinical assessment tool; however, there is insufficient evidence to support its translation into clinical practice. This study aimed to establish consensus on the priorities for translation of US into clinical practice for the assessment of swallowing and laryngeal function. Nominal Group Technique (NGT) was used as a formal method of consensus development. Clinicians and academics, all members of an international US working group, were invited to participate in the study. Two NGT meetings were held, where participants silently generated and then shared ideas. Participants anonymously ranked items. Rankings were aggregated before participants re-ranked items in order of priority. Discussions regarding rankings were recorded and transcribed to inform analysis. Member-checking with participants informed the final analysis. Participants (n = 15) were speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists and sonographers representing six countries. Fifteen items were identified and prioritised 1–13 (including two equally ranked items). Reliability, validity and normative data emerged as key areas for research while development of training protocols and engagement with stakeholders were considered vital to progressing US into practice. Analysis revealed common themes that might be addressed together in research, in addition to the ranked priority. A measured approach to the translation of US into clinical practice will enable effective implementation of this tool. Priorities may evolve as clinical and professional contexts shift, but this study provides a framework to advance research and clinical practice in this field.