Patient and Family Caregivers’ Experiences of Living With a Jejunostomy Feeding Tube After Surgery for Esophagogastric Cancer

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Background:Jejunostomy feeding tubes (JFTs) can be used to provide nutrition support to patients who have had surgery for esophagogastric cancer. Although previous research reports how patients cope with a gastrostomy tube, little is known about the impact of having a JFT. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how patients and their informal caregivers experience living with a JFT in the first months following surgery. Methods: Participants were purposively sampled from a cohort of patients recruited to a trial investigating home enteral nutrition vs standard care after esophagogastric surgery for cancer. The sampling framework considered age, sex, and marital status. Informal caregivers were also invited to participate. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and anonymized. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify key themes related to living with a JFT. Results: Fifteen patient interviews were conducted; 8 also included a family caregiver. Analysis of the data resulted in 2 main themes: “challenges” and “facilitators” when living with a JFT. While “physical effects,” “worries” and “impact on routine” were the main challenges, “support,” “adaptation” and “perceived benefit” were what motivated continuation of the intervention. Conclusion: Findings suggest that participants coped well with a JFT, describing high levels of compliance with stoma care and the feeding regimen. Nonetheless, disturbed sleep patterns and stoma-related problems proved troublesome. A better understanding of these practical challenges, from the patient and family caregiver perspective, should guide healthcare teams in providing proactive support to avoid preventable problems.

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