Problems Experienced by Patients Receiving Parenteral Nutrition at Home: Results of an Open Interview Study

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Home parenteral nutrition (HPN) is offered to patients who are unable to absorb sufficient nourishment from normal oral food intake or tube feeding. Major causes include severe motility disorders and limited resorption surface in the small intestine. HPN is a lifesaving therapy but has severe consequences on daily life. The aim of this study was to make an inventory of the problems experienced by patients receiving HPN.


Open interviews were held with 48 patients from the 2 major centers for HPN in the Netherlands, centered around the question: Which 3 HPN problems have the most severe impact on your daily life? Data were analyzed using content analysis.


The respondents mentioned 7 central problems: negative emotions, physical problems, social limitations, dependence on others, incapability, complications, and patient-care provider problems. In addition, practical problems were mentioned: sleeping problems, financial problems, and the “hospital atmosphere” at home. The latter issues formed less of a problem for the patients.


The main underlying elements in the lives of many HPN patients appeared to be loss, longing, and grief. In contrast, a smaller proportion of the patients expressed that they had clearly adapted to life with HPN. By means of the HPN, they were still alive and enjoying all the things they could still do. (Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition30:215–221, 2006)

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