The experience of long-term gastrostomy tube feeding: a phenomenological case-study



    1. Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, Third Floor Clinical Sciences Building, The University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2C3 Canada
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  • A 1991 phenomenological case-study investigated the effect of long-term gastrostomy tube feeding on an incompetent patient and her surrogate decision maker. In this case, a daughter chose tube feeding for her severely debilitated mother after she had become aphasic. The report includes the daughter's perceptions of (a) her relationship and experience with a tube-fed mother, and (b) her mother's experience with tube feeding.
  • The experience of tube feeding differed from what the daughter had expected. The daughter perceived that tube feeding reduced her mother's quality of life. Taste sensations and pleasures of eating were lost. Tube feeding also negatively influenced the daughter's activities and subsequent relationship with her mother. Tube feeding, however, did extend life and did allow ongoing visits by the daughter and her children.
  • The mother could still continue to fulfil the role of a mother and grandmother to a certain extent. Most significantly, however, tube feeding was perceived to prolong death. Concern over whether her mother would have chosen tube feeding for herself prevailed.