Internal structure and validity of the bedside oral examination tool in patients with brain injury at neurorehabilitation setting
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Objectives: To assess the internal structure and validity of the ‘bedside oral examination’ (BOE) instrument in individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI). Methods: Ninety ABI individuals were examined using BOE in their first week of neurorehabilitation. BOE measures oral health within eight categories including: swallow, tongue, odour, teeth, lips, saliva, mucosa and gingiva. To assess the validity of BOE, full-mouth clinical examination (gold standard) was performed. The internal structure of BOE was assessed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. To measure the validity, the BOE scores were dichotomised into excellent oral health and altered oral health. Sensitivity, specificity and area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve of the six/eight BOE items were compared with their related clinical oral examination tool. Results: Overall, the patients had poor oral health irrespective of the oral examination tool used. Factor analyses indicated two factors within BOE: ‘oral hygiene’ (teeth, gingiva and mucosa) and ‘orofacial health’ (lips, swallow and saliva). BOE tongue and odour items loaded in neither factor. BOE items showed low validity since the highest area under the ROC curve was 0.60. Findings on the sensitivity value ranged from 35.0 to 74.2, while specificity from 44.4 to 83.3, depending on the item evaluated. Conclusion: Bedside oral examination does not seem to be an ideal ‘single’ outcome tool in a neurorehabilitation setting as it lacks validity. BOE evaluates oral health as two independent but correlated components and treat them separately indicating precision treatment depending on their oral health dysfunction. It is advisable to use BOE as a screening tool. However, it should be complimented by proper clinical examination before establishing a treatment plan for oral health in patients with ABI.