Investigation of Assessment Tools in the Area of Pediatric Feeding Evaluation: A Mixed-Methods Study

Paula A. Rabaey, Kate Barlow, Hibak Jama, Victoria Lehr

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1 Scopus citations


Importance: The new diagnostic code for pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, Clinical Modification, requires that occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) use valid and reliable assessment tools that capture the complexity of PFD. Objective: To determine current assessment tools that clinicians are using across the four domains of PFD: (1) medical factors, (2) nutrition factors, (3) feeding skill factors, and (4) psychosocial factors. A secondary objective was to obtain clinicians’ perceptions of the assessment tools. Design: A mixed-methods study using survey research and focus groups. Setting: Online survey and virtual focus groups. Participants: Occupational therapists and SLPs who identified as clinicians who treat PFDs. Results: The survey revealed that 65% of the clinicians (N 5 445) used a nonstandardized assessment tool across the four domains of PFD. The focus groups (n 5 26) revealed four resulting themes that expanded the survey results: (1) no one assessment tool works, (2) clinicians rely on self-created assessments, (3) it takes a team and collaboration, and (4) there are many issues with the current assessment of PFD. Conclusions and Relevance: This study reveals the need for clinicians working with children with PFD to use feeding assessment tools with sound psychometric properties. The requirement for occupational therapists and SLPs to evaluate and treat dysphagia and disorders of feeding indicates the need to provide entry-level education on reliable and valid assessment tools that thoroughly evaluate all the domains of PFD. What This Article Adds: This article highlights current assessment tools used by occupational therapists and SLPs treating PFD and the need for more standardized procedures and tools to evaluate children across the four domains of PFD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023

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© 2023 American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Journal Article


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