Enteral tube feeding in the community: survey of adult patients discharged from a Dublin hospital

Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb;19(1):15-22. doi: 10.1054/clnu.1999.0045.


Background and aims: No previous study has examined the state of patients on enteral tube feeding in the community in the Republic of Ireland.

Methods: Fifty adult patients discharged from a Dublin hospital on enteral tube feeding were assessed retrospectively.

Results: Sixty-six per cent of the sample were over 65 years of age. Patients required enteral tube feeding as a consequence of swallowing difficulties caused by stroke (46%) or cancer of the head and neck (24%). Most patients were on full nutritional support and, in total, had spent over 49 years tube feeding in the community. Geriatric stroke patients were found to have poor functional ability and nutritional assessment proved difficult to carry out on many of these patients. Problems encountered with feeding included blocked tubes (30%), infected stoma sites (16%), and logistical problems regarding feed and equipment. Nutritional follow-up was not routine in patients with poor mobility, and 55% of patients on long-term tube feeding had not been reviewed by a dietitian in over 1 year. Patients had little faith in their general practitioner's knowledge of enteral feeding.

Conclusions: While patients and families appear to cope remarkably well with tube feeding in the community, more support is necessary to ensure appropriate feeding and to monitor the nutritional status of these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Services*
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Patient Discharge* / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Care*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires