Patients' lived experiences of a reduced intake of food and drinks during illness: a literature review

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Abstract

Patients' lived experiences of a reduced intake of food and drinks during illness: a literature review

Aim:

This study aims to identify patients' lived experiences of having a reduced intake of food and drink during illness, through a literature review.

Methods:

Scientific studies were selected through a systematic search of CINAHL, PubMed, SweMed, British Nursing Index, Psycinfo and EMBASE. A deductive thematic analysis was performed on the studies included. The analysis provided three main themes: (i) serving of food and drink – patient experiences. (ii) Modifications related to illness – patient experiences. (iii) Nutritional care provided by healthcare professionals nutritional care – patient experiences.

Findings:

Generally speaking, the findings showed high satisfaction with the food served at hospitals. However, patients' individual tastes and preferences as to when and where to eat were found to affect their intake of food and drink. Physical changes because of illness were stated as the main reason for the patients' lived experiences of a reduced intake of food and drink. These experiences seemed to be related to negative feelings, such as anxiety and shame during meals. Furthermore, the literature review revealed a lack of professional assistance during meals and insufficient guidance on how to handle specific nutritional problems.

Conclusions:

Patients expect committed nursing care in regard to nutritional advice during illness and assistance in meal-related situations. Nurses need to refocus on fundamental caring.

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