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Background - Intensive prophylactic swallowing therapy can mitigate dysphagia in patients with oropharyngeal (OP) SCC, however, presents service challenges. This trial investigated the clinical efficacy of three service models delivering prophylactic swallowing therapy during (chemo)radiotherapy ([C]RT).
Methods - Patients (n = 79) with OPSCC receiving (C)RT were were randomized to: (a) clinician-directed face-to-face therapy (n = 26); (b) telepractice therapy via "SwallowIT" (n = 26); or (c) patient self-directed therapy (n = 27). Swallowing, nutritional, and functional status were compared at baseline, 6-weeks, and 3-months post-(C)RT. Patients' perceptions/preferences for service-delivery were collated posttreatment.
Results - Service-delivery mode did not affect clinical outcomes, with no significant (P > .05) between-group differences or group-by-time interactions observed for swallowing, nutrition, or functional measures. Therapy adherence declined during (C)RT in all groups. SwallowIT and clinician-directed models were preferred by significantly (P = .002) more patients than patient-directed.
Conclusions - SwallowIT provided clinically equivalent outcomes to traditional service models. SwallowIT and clinician-directed therapy were preferred by patients, likely due to higher levels of therapy support.