Parent, patient and health professional perspectives regarding enteral nutrition in paediatric oncology

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Abstract

Aim:

Enteral tube feeding (ETF) is an important part of treatment for paediatric cancer patients. Without nutritional therapy, the prevalence of under-nutrition during treatment for childhood cancer may be as high as 50%. To ensure that the appropriate initiation of ETF is optimised, information on the views of key stakeholders regarding ETF is needed.

Methods:

In total, 48 interviews were conducted with parents of paediatric cancer patients (n = 20), patients (n = 10) and members of the paediatric oncology health-care team (n = 18). Semistructured interviews were used to elicit information from participants, and the data were analysed using a content analysis approach. The interviews focused on views regarding: (i) attitude toward, and impact of, ETF; (ii) information and support regarding ETF; and (iii) clinical management of ETF.

Results:

There was agreement between stakeholders on the impact of ETF on patients, both positive (good nutrition, weight gain and decreased anxiety) and negative (physical appearance, invasive insertion procedure and comfort). There were discordant perceptions regarding the timing and type of information provided on the use of ETF, as well as the decision-making process used.

Conclusions:

By standardising the information given to parents and enhancing understanding of parent, patient and health-care worker perceptions about ETF, the initiation of tube feeding may be optimised. This may positively impact patient outcomes in the future.

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