A systematic review of the physiological effects of the effortful swallow maneuver in adults with normal and disordered swallowing

Mariana Mendes Bahia, Soren Y. Lowell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: This systematic review summarizes the biomechanical and functional effects of the effortful swallow in adults with and without dysphagia, highlighting clinical implications and future research needs. Specifically, the effects of the effortful swallow on swallowing physiology, safety, and efficiency were identified, as well as the strengths and limitations of current research. Method: Recommendations specified by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses were followed. A literature search of three databases and relevant articles cited in the searched studies was performed. Two evaluators independently analyzed the studies for eligibility criteria, and final inclusion of studies was decided by consensus. Evaluators also assessed each study for quality of evidence. Results: Twenty-three studies were included in this systematic review. Main findings indicated that the effortful swallow generated greater pressures in the tongue-to-palate, pharynx, upper esophageal sphincter, and esophageal regions. Inconsistent results for hyolaryngeal excursion were reported, as well as for swallowing function. Instructions of the effortful swallow varied greatly across studies. Two of the 23 studies were judged to be of high quality, and the remaining studies were of medium quality based on the quality indicators of this review. Conclusions: Biomechanical effects of the effortful swallow included increased pressures in the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal regions. Future investigations should address the effects of the effortful swallow in individuals with dysphagia and its potential role as a rehabilitative maneuver. Moreover, standardization of the effortful swallow instructions based on its physiological and functional effects is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1655-1673
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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