Efficacy of a Low-cost Multidisciplinary Team-led Experiential Workshop for Public Health Midwives on Dysphagia Management for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Shyamani Hettiarachchi, Gopi Kitnasamy, Raj Mahendran, Fathima Shamra Nizar, Chamara Bandara, Paramaguru Gowritharan


Purpose: Over the past decade there has been a growing focus on offering appropriate training to healthcare professionals and caregivers to support safe feeding practices for children with cerebral palsy. Early and consistent multidisciplinary intervention is required to minimise the risks of aspiration pneumonia. The high incidence of complications from aspiration pneumonia among children with cerebral palsy in Sri Lanka has made it necessary to conduct low-cost multidisciplinary team-led dysphagia awareness workshops for healthcare professionals and caregivers.

Method: A group of 38 Public Health Midwives (PHMs) was offered an experiential workshop by a small multidisciplinary team (MDT). To determine changes in knowledge, a self-administered questionnaire that included a video-based client scenario was administered pre- and post-workshop. The data were analysed statistically using non-parametric within-participant t-tests.

Results: The post-workshop responses to the questionnaire indicated a significant increase in the level of knowledge. This included positive changes in the understanding and knowledge of cerebral palsy (t (37) =-7.44, p=.000), effects of cerebral palsy on eating and drinking skills (t (37) =-3.91, p=.000), positioning (t (37) = -9.85, p=.000), aspiration (t (37) =-3.46, p=.001), food categorisation (t (37), -3.85, p=.000) and client video observation (t (37)-3.91, p=.000) at a p=.05 level of significance. While there was also an increase in the knowledge on general guidelines during mealtimes, this did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion: The low-cost MDT-led experiential workshop was effective in increasing knowledge of feeding and dysphagia-related issues in cerebral palsy among a group of PHMs. This workshop could serve as a model for training PHMs and Community-Health Workers across the country in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ‘good health and well-being’ for children with cerebral palsy and all children experiencing feeding difficulties. Follow-up workshops and continued professional development courses for midwives on dysphagia care are strongly recommended, in addition to collaborative clinical practice.


Cerebral palsy; dysphagia; midwives; training

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v29i3.764

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