Exclusive enteral nutrition for children with Crohn's disease: Use in Australia and attitudes of Australian paediatric gastroenterologists

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Abstract

Aim:

Although available data support a role for exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) in children with Crohn's disease (CD), use of this therapy varies. The aim of this study was to define the patterns of use of EEN across Australia and to better understand the reasons for this variation.

Methods:

Using an existing email network, Australian paediatric gastroenterologists were asked to provide details of their attitudes towards, and use of, EEN in children. A questionnaire was designed to direct responses, with regard to use of EEN, to current EEN protocols and patterns of use.

Results:

Twenty-one replies were received (58% response). Although 12 respondents felt that EEN was an appropriate therapy for CD, only 8 regularly used EEN for their patients. Usage varied between states and within units. Current use was related to practitioners' experiences of EEN during their gastroenterology training. The concerns of those who did not recommend EEN included compliance, cost and resource demands. The doctors who recommend EEN reported that family support, team approach and disease location were important factors for a positive outcome from EEN. Current protocols varied in terms of type of formula, length of therapy and use of concurrent medications.

Conclusions:

Variations in care were illustrated across these paediatric gastroenterologists. Practitioners have many reasons and concerns about the use of EEN: these impede the wider use of EEN for paediatric CD. More consistent protocols for the use of EEN and an improved understanding of the mechanisms of EEN could lead to enhanced use of this therapy.

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