Patients who receive prolonged endotracheal intubation (> 48 hours) are at risk for dysphagia. Nurses should conduct swallowing assessments after extubation because of the high likelihood of aspiration pneumonia developing. No valid and reliable postextubation dysphagia screening tools are available.
To establish content validity, analyze interrater reliability, and determine sensitivity and specificity of an evidence-based postextubation dysphagia screening tool developed by a multidisciplinary team.
A prospective nonexperimental study was conducted in 4 medical-surgical intensive care units in 4 hospitals. The study was conducted in 3 phases: (1) establishing content validity with clinical experts who participated in a Delphi survey, (2) establishing inter-rater reliability by agreement with nurses who simultaneously and independently completed the tool, and (3) establishing sensitivity and specificity with speech language pathologists and nurses who independently and blindly completed the tool for eligible patients.
Individual item scores were > 0.82 and the overall content validity index was 0.93, indicating content validity. Interrater reliability was established (Cohen κ = 0.92). In 66 eligible patients, the prevalence of postextubation dysphagia was 56%, sensitivity of the postextubation dysphagia screening tool was 81%, and specificity was 69%.
The reliability and validity of a postextubation dysphagia screening tool that can help nurses determine an extubated patient’s ability to swallow after prolonged endotracheal intubation were established.