Eating performance in relation to intake of solid and liquid food in nursing home residents with dementia: A secondary behavioral analysis of mealtime videos

Int J Nurs Stud. 2019 Aug;96:18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.12.010. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Background: Persons with dementia commonly experience low food intake leading to negative nutritional and functional outcomes. While multilevel personal and environmental factors that influence intake are implicated, evidence is lacking on the role of characteristics of dynamic eating performance cycles. An eating performance cycle is defined as the process of getting food from the plate or container, transporting it into the mouth, and chewing and swallowing it.

Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between intake and characteristics of eating performance cycles among nursing home residents with dementia.

Methods: A secondary analysis of 111 mealtime video clips from a nursing home communication training study was conducted. The 111 videos involved 25 residents and 29 staff (N = 42 unique staff-resident dyads) in 9 nursing homes. The Cue Utilization and Engagement in Dementia Mealtime video-coding scheme was used to code the characteristics of eating performance cycles, including eating technique (resident-completed, staff-facilitated), type of food (solid, liquid), duration of each eating performance cycle, and intake outcome (intake, no intake). The Generalized Linear Mixed Model was used to examine the interaction effects of eating technique by type of food, eating technique by duration, and type of food by duration on intake outcome.

Results: Totally 1122 eating performance cycles were coded from 111 video clips. The majority of the cycles (85.7%) resulted in intake. There were significant interactions for eating technique by duration, and type of food by duration. As the duration of the eating performance cycle increased, staff-facilitated cycles resulted in greater odds of intake than resident-completed cycles (OR = 17.80 vs. 2.73); and cycles involving liquid food resulted in greater odds of intake than cycles involving solid food (OR = 15.42 vs. 3.15). Though the interaction between eating technique and type of food was not significant, the odds of intake were greater for resident-completed cycles than for staff-facilitated cycles regardless of the type of food being involved in the cycle (OR = 3.60 for liquid food, OR = 10.69 for solid food).

Conclusions: The findings pointed out the importance of supporting resident independence in eating performance, providing liquid food when residents struggle with solid food, and provision of longer and continuous facilitation at mealtimes to improve intake. The findings inform the development and implementation of innovative mealtime assistance and staff training to promote eating performance and intake.

Keywords: Behavioral analysis; Dementia; Eating performance; Food intake; Mealtime; Nursing home.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*