BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Pediatric patients commonly have difficulty swallowing pills. Targeted interventions have shown to improve medication administration and treatment compliance. The objective was to evaluate studies performed on pill swallowing interventions in the pediatric population since 1987.

METHODS:

We performed a comprehensive PubMed search and a bibliography review to identify articles for our review. We selected articles published in English between December 1986 and December 2013 that included >10 participants aged 0 to 21 years with pill swallowing difficulties without a comorbid condition affecting their swallowing. Reviewers extracted the relevant information and rated the quality of each study as “poor,” “fair,” or “good” based on the sample size and study design.

RESULTS:

We identified 4 cohort studies and 1 case series that met our criteria. All 5 studies found their intervention to be successful in teaching children how to swallow pills. Interventions included behavioral therapies, flavored throat spray, verbal instructions, specialized pill cup, and head posture training. Quality ratings differed between the articles, with 3 articles rated as “fair,” 1 article as “good,” and 1 article as “poor.”

CONCLUSIONS:

Pill swallowing difficulties are a barrier that can be overcome with a variety of successful interventions. Addressing this problem and researching more effective ways of implementing these interventions can help improve medication administration and compliance in the pediatric population.

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