Parents’ perspectives on feeding medically compromised children: Implications for occupational therapy

Authors

  • Lyndal Franklin,

    Corresponding author
    1. 1 Department of Occupational Therapy, Mater Children's Hospital, South Brisbane and 2Department of Occupational Therapy, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • and 1 Sylvia Rodger 2

    1. 1 Department of Occupational Therapy, Mater Children's Hospital, South Brisbane and 2Department of Occupational Therapy, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • Lyndal Franklin BOccThy; Occupational Therapist. Sylvia Rodger BOccThy, MEdSt, PhD; Senior Lecturer and Head of Department.

Lyndal Franklin, Occupational Therapy, Mater Children's Hospital, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, QLD 4101, Australia. Email: 1occch@mater.org.au

Abstract

Managing feeding difficulties in infants and young children with chronic medical conditions can be very stressful for parents. Occupational therapists providing feeding interventions need to be sensitive to the psychological stresses experienced by families as well as the biomedical issues that can contribute to paediatric feeding disorders. Qualitative research, using the phenomenological theory, was conducted with eight families to explore parents’ perceptions of the impact of feeding difficulties on family life. This article reports on preliminary findings, describing factors that contributed to parental stress and factors that influenced their psychological adjustment. A unifying theme emerged drawing together parents’ perceptions of how they had ‘survived’ and coped with chronic stress. Parents attributed satisfaction with medical care, management of nutrition, and support from professionals, partners and family as contributing to their ability to cope and adjust over time. Based on these preliminary findings, recommendations that acknowledge the psychosocial aspects of feeding intervention in occupational therapy practice are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.

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