Implementation of the VA Intensive Dysphagia Treatment Program: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation

Joanne Yee, Michael Pulia, Mary Jo Knobloch, Rachael Martinez, Sarah Daggett, Bridget Smith, Nan Musson, Nicole Rogus-Pulia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Intensive Dysphagia Treatment program serves a critical role in facilitating improvements to quality of care, standardization of outcomes, and increased access to structured therapy for Veterans with dysphagia. It has been implemented at 26 sites nationally and continues expanding. An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design was utilized for program evaluation to identify barriers and facilitators to implementation as reported by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) participating in the program. All 23 IDT program SLPs were invited to participate in an online survey. SLPs were asked to describe etiologies referred for SLP evaluation, most and least clinically useful program aspects, and characteristics of patients recommended for therapy. Qualitative interviews/focus groups were then conducted with 9 SLPs at 3 facilities with varying levels of program experience. Transcripts underwent systems engineering framework informed deductive thematic analysis. Interview/focus groups revealed overall positive feedback. Barriers included data entry challenges and provider understanding of long-term program goals, while facilitators included program structure enabling increased patient follow-up, outcomes tracking, and training in new treatment modalities. Through this evaluation process, program leadership garnered actionable feedback to improve further implementation of the IDT program. Ongoing efforts will further improve data entry, site onboarding procedures, and program communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Services Insights
StatePublished - 2022


  • Swallowing
  • implementation science
  • mixed methods
  • program evaluation
  • speech-language pathologists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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