Taste perception and water swallow screen results in old-old women

Rachel W. Mulheren, Ianessa Humbert, Anne R. Cappola, Linda P. Fried, Marlís González-Fernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Changes n both swallowing and taste commonly occur in advanced age, though the relationship between the two is unknown. This study examined the association between a water swallow screen test and taste identification and intensity rating. Participants included 47 community-dwelling women aged 85-94 years. Participants completed three trials of a water swallow screen and were observed for signs of aspiration, which, if present, indicated failure. Four pure taste stimuli at low and high concentrations and water were presented, and participants selected one of five taste labels and rated their intensity on the generalized Labeled Magnitude Scale. Ratios of intensity ratings were computed for each taste stimulus to compare the perception of low and high concentrations. The association between water swallow screen failure, correct taste identification, and taste intensity ratio was evaluated with logistic regression modeling, with mediating factors of frailty and number of comorbidities. Failure of three water swallow screen trials was associated with a higher taste intensity ratio for caffeine (bitter) and a lower taste intensity ratio for sucrose (sweet). Correct identification of taste, frailty, and number of comorbidities were not associated with failure of any number of water swallow screen trials. Intensity ratings of certain tastes may be associated with swallowing in old-old women. Heightened vigilance in this population may be necessary to prevent complications related to dietary intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Aging
  • Swallowing
  • Taste
  • Water swallow screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Health(social science)

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