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Improving swallowing outcomes in patients with head and neck cancer using a theory-based pretreatment swallowing intervention package: protocol for a randomised feasibility study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Roganie Govender, Christina H Smith, Benjamin Gardner, Helen Barratt, Stuart A Taylor

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e014167
JournalBMJ open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017


King's Authors


INTRODUCTION: The incidence of head and neck cancer (HNC) in the UK is rising, with an average of 31 people diagnosed daily. Patients affected by HNC suffer significant short-term and long-term post-treatment morbidity as a result of dysphagia, which affects daily functioning and quality of life (QOL). Pretreatment swallowing exercises may provide additional benefit over standard rehabilitation in managing dysphagia after primary HNC treatments, but uncertainty about their effectiveness persists. This study was preceded by an intervention development phase to produce an optimised swallowing intervention package (SIP). The aim of the current study is to assess the feasibility of this new intervention and research processes within a National Health Service (NHS) setting.

METHOD AND ANALYSIS: A two-arm non-blinded randomised controlled feasibility study will be carried out at one tertiary referral NHS centre providing specialist services in HNC. Patients newly diagnosed with stage III and IV disease undergoing planned surgery and/or chemoradiation treatments will be eligible. The SIP will be delivered pre treatment, and a range of swallowing-related and QOL measures will be collected at baseline, 1, 3 and 6 months post-treatment. Outcomes will test the feasibility of a future randomised controlled trial (RCT), detailing rate of recruitment and patient acceptance to participation and randomisation. Salient information relating to protocol implementation will be collated and study material such as the case report form will be tested. A range of candidate outcome measures will be examined for suitability in a larger RCT.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval was obtained from an NHS Research Ethics Committee. Findings will be published open access in a peer-reviewed journal, and presented at relevant conferences and research meetings.


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