Healthcare foodservice workers' knowledge of dysphagia and development of a sensory descriptor lexicon and benchmarking instrument in formulation testing.
Broz, Charles C.
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The purpose of this study is twofold. The first aspect is to survey current nutrition/foodservice-related healthcare professionals to determine their level of knowledge about dysphagia, and their perceptions of dysphagic patients and their needs. The second aspect of this research is to develop a lexicon of descriptors for use by a trained sensory panel in the subjective testing of formulations potentially useful for the dysphagia diet. The study would include creating a texture benchmarking instrument designed to compare tactile sensations from the participantsâ€™ fingertips with the particulate content and particulate size of the sampled product on their palettes. The primary concept will be to use this instrument to demonstrate attribute descriptors and thus elicit a more accurate attribute diagnosis by which to create the lexicon. Study 1. A data collection instrument in the form of a questionnaire was developed to obtain an idea of the perceptions and knowledge-level of diet/foodservice-related healthcare workers about dysphagia. Subjects included foodservice workers, including food preparers and food deliverers at a large healthcare facility in the Southwestern United States. A total sample size of n = 51 surveys was collected and analyzed. Given the means from this sample group, healthcare foodservice workers are lacking in some areas of knowledge concerning dysphagia patients, and their dietary needs. Education and training seem indicated, as the number of patients suffering from some degree of dysphagia are only going to increase as the U.S. population ages. Study 2. While objective testing can determine a productâ€™s viscosity better than can human subjects, determining particulate size and number nearly always requires sensory evaluation. Considering the similar sensitivity shared by the human palette and the human finger pad, as well as the apparent benefit of combining sensory analysis with a tactile component, it appears indicated to create sensory tests which contain a tactile benchmarking instrument to assist researchers with subjective standardization of viscosities, particulate count and size diagnosis, and overall acceptability. Results of the pilot study bore up this perception well. However, in practice, the second study was inconclusive, and showed strange, if somewhat significant, results.