Characteristics Associated with Feeding Tube Placement: Retrospective Cohort Study of Texas Nursing Home Residents with Advanced Dementia

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021 Jul;22(7):1471-1476.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.10.033. Epub 2020 Nov 22.


Objectives: To investigate resident-level, provider-type, nursing home (NH), and regional factors associated with feeding tube (FT) placement in advanced dementia.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting and participants: NH residents in Texas with dementia diagnosis and severe cognitive impairment (N = 20,582).

Methods: This study used 2011-2016 Texas Medicare data to identify NH residents with a stay of at least 120 days who had a diagnosis of dementia on Long Term Care Minimum Data Set (MDS) evaluation and severe cognitive impairment on clinical score. Multivariable repeated measures analyses were conducted to identify associations between FT placement and resident-level, provider-type, NH, and regional factors.

Results: The prevalence of FT placement in advanced dementia in Texas between 2011 and 2016 ranged from 12.5% to 16.1% with a nonlinear trend. At the resident level, the prevalence of FT decreased with age [age > 85 years, prevalence ratio (PR) 0.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52-0.69] and increased among residents who are black (2.74, 95% CI 2.48-3.03) or Hispanic (PR 1.91, 95% CI 1.71-2.13). Residents cared for by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant were less likely to have an FT (PR 0.90, 95% CI 0.85-0.96). No facility characteristics were associated with prevalence of FT placement in advanced dementia. There were regional differences in FT placement with the highest use areas on the Texas-Mexico border and in South and East Texas (Harlingen border area, PR 4.26, 95% CI 3.69-4.86; San Antonio border area, PR 3.93, 95% CI 3.04-4.93; Houston, PR 2.17, 95% CI 1.87-2.50), and in metro areas (PR 1.36, 95% CI 1.22-1.50).

Conclusions and implications: Regional, race, and ethnic variations in prevalence of FT use among NH residents suggest opportunities for clinicians and policy makers to improve the quality of end-of-life care by especially considering other palliative care measures for minorities living in border towns.

Keywords: Dementia; Texas; border; feeding tube; nursing home; palliative care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Mexico
  • Nursing Homes
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • United States