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Barriers to Effective Healthcare for Patients Who Have Smell or Taste Disorders
  • +2
  • Stephen Ball,
  • Duncan Boak,
  • Joanne Dixon,
  • Sean Carrie,
  • Carl Philpott
Stephen Ball
Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences
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Duncan Boak
Fifth Sense
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Joanne Dixon
Fifth Sense
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Sean Carrie
Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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Carl Philpott
University of East Anglia
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Abstract

Objectives: Smell/taste disturbances are a common but underrated, under-researched and under treated sensory loss and an independent risk factor for reduced longevity. This study aimed to characterise the experience of patients these disorders in seeking help. Design: The study was designed by patients together with clinicians through a dedicated workshop and conducted as a cross-sectional survey to capture experiences in public and private healthcare settings internationally. Setting: Primary, secondary and tertiary care. Participants: Any members of the public self-reporting a smell/taste disorder were invited to participate. Main outcome measures: The survey captured information including experience of getting consultations and referrals to medical professionals, treatments offered, costs incurred and related problems with mental health. Results: Of 673 participants; 510 female, 160 male, self-reported aetiology included sinonasal disease (24%), idiopathic (24%) and post-viral olfactory dysfunction (22%); true gustatory disorders were typically rare. Failure of medical professionals to recognise the problem was a key concern - 64%, 76% and 47% of GPs, ENT specialists and Neurologists acknowledged respectively. Other issues included repeated ineffective treatments, difficulties getting referrals to secondary/tertiary care, mental health problems (60%) and a mean personal cost of £421 to seeking advice and treatment. Whilst the participants were self-selecting, however they do represent those who are seeking help and intervention for their disorders. Conclusion: There is an unmet need for these patients in accessing healthcare including a clear need to improve education of and engagement with the medical profession in Otorhinolaryngology, General Practice and other specialties, in order to remove the current barriers they face.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

22 Feb 2021Submitted to Clinical Otolaryngology
25 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
25 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
28 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
24 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
04 May 20211st Revision Received
05 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
05 May 2021Assigned to Editor
08 May 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
23 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 May 2021Editorial Decision: Accept