Objective: To examine the economic and psychologic costs of care provided by maternal caregivers to children with gastrostomy tube (GT) feedings.
Study design: We conducted a 3-site study of primary maternal caregivers of 101 chronically ill children, with (n = 50) and without (n = 51) enteral nutrition support by GT to determine the time spent providing technical care, nontechnical care, and health care management and to assess depressive mood and quality of life. Associated costs were determined.
Results: Caregivers spent 339.7 +/- 34.1 (SEM) min/d to provide all care. Children with a GT required more than twice as much care time as children without a GT: 484.5 +/- 54.6 versus 197.8 +/- 30.6 min/d ( P < .0001). The mean annual total value of home care by the primary caregiver for a child with a GT was 37,232 dollars, compared with 15,004 dollars for the child without a GT. Caregivers of children with GT were no more depressed or less satisfied with their lives than caregivers of children without GT.
Conclusions: Use of a GT for enteral nutrition support is associated with significant increased care time by the primary caregiver but not at additional psychologic cost compared with caring for chronically ill children.