Mealtime Support: A Pilot Case Series study of an Effective, Cost-saving Outpatient Hunger-Based Feeding Program for Tube Dependency

JPGN Rep. 2022 Jan 24;3(1):e154. doi: 10.1097/PG9.0000000000000154. eCollection 2022 Feb.


Tube feeding is essential for children who cannot meet nutritional requirements orally. Over time, this can lead to tube dependency with negative impacts on the quality of life of children and families.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine the efficacy of a multidisciplinary child-led, hunger-based approach called “Mealtime Support” at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Nutritional outcomes, parental satisfaction, and cost implications were evaluated over 9 months postprogram completion per child.

METHODS: The ambulatory meal program was delivered 2-3 times a day, for 2 weeks, by an occupational therapist and dietitian, under medical supervision. Hunger was promoted by reducing tube fed calories by 80% before commencement. Caregivers completed 12-question subjective surveys pre- and postintervention. Microcosting methods compared costs between the program and ongoing tube feeding.

RESULTS: From 2016 to 2017, 6 children were enrolled and 5 completed the program. At 1-month postintervention, 4/5 of the children were 100% orally fed. Parents reported improvement in mealtime struggles (P = 0.005), reduction in worry about their child’s eating (P = 0.005), and improvement in their child’s appetite/variety foods eaten (P = 0.004). Over 2 years, the potential cost savings were estimated at $43,471.00. By 6 months, all feeding tubes were removed.

CONCLUSIONS: Mealtime support was safe and successful in reducing tube dependency and cost-effective compared to no intervention or hospital based programs, which suggests that there is a need to develop and fund Canadian outpatient feeding programs.

PMID:37168756 | PMC:PMC10158302 | DOI:10.1097/PG9.0000000000000154

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