Original Research

Third party disability of family members of adults with dysphagia

Kim Coutts, Bibi Sayed
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1040 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1040 | © 2023 Kim Coutts, Bibi Sayed | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2022 | Published: 27 January 2023

About the author(s)

Kim Coutts, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Bibi Sayed, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Third-party disability (TPD) has been studied in multiple patients including those with aphasia and hearing loss. Only one study has been done in relation to caregivers of adults with dysphagia. Third-party disability has been analysed using the International Classification of Function and Disability (ICF) framework. This study, therefore, used the ICF model to explore TPD of caregivers of adults with dysphagia for the context of Johannesburg in South Africa.

Objectives: To describe how caregivers experience TPD when caring for adults with a dysphagia in Johannesburg.

Methods: Data were collected from five primary adult caregivers, who were all family members, from government clinics in Johannesburg. This article reports the findings from the interviews that were analysed thematically using a top-down analysis approach.

Results: Caregivers experienced challenges related to TPD mostly related to difficulties of being able to do activities of daily living for themselves, their household chores and attending social engagements. The use of body structure and function from the ICF model was not overtly applicable to the caregiver population. A new visual representation has been suggested to highlight the key themes to augment the social and psychological changes as seen on the ICF framework and demonstrated the specific interaction that these factors had on one another.

Conclusion: Third-party disability is present in caregivers of patients with dysphagia. Healthcare workers need to be aware of the impact that this can have when preparing home management strategies. This newly devised representation can assist in creating a locally relevant patient-centred care approach but requires future input.

Contribution: This article has provided greater insight into TPD in caregivers of adult patients with dysphagia in an urban African context. It has led to new information that can be used as an adjunct to the ICF model when understanding this phenomenon.


dysphagia; caregiver; third party disability; ICF; patient centred care.


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