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How do mothers juggle the special dietary needs of one child while feeding the family? A qualitative exploration

Authors

  • Elesa T. CROWLEY,

    Corresponding author
    1. University Department of Rural Health Northern NSW
    2. Dietetics Department, Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital, Tamworth, New South Wales
      E. Crowley, University Department of Rural Heath, University of Newcastle, Locked Bag 9783, New England Mail Sorting Centre, Tamworth, NSW 2348, Australia. Email: elesa.crowley@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
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  • Lauren T. WILLIAMS,

    1. School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan
    2. University of Canberra, Australia
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  • Leanne J. BROWN

    1. University Department of Rural Health Northern NSW
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  • E.T. Crowley, M Med Sc (N&D), AdvAPD, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitian-in-Charge/Senior Clinical Dietitian

  • L.T. Williams, PhD, AdvAPD, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics

  • L.J. Brown, PhD, AdvAPD, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics

E. Crowley, University Department of Rural Heath, University of Newcastle, Locked Bag 9783, New England Mail Sorting Centre, Tamworth, NSW 2348, Australia. Email: elesa.crowley@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

Abstract

Aim:  The study aims to examine the lived experiences of mothers implementing a special diet (cow's milk protein free) for a child under 12 while also continuing to feed their family. The second aim was to examine how these experiences impacted on their decision of whether or not to continue the diet.

Methods:  A phenomenological qualitative approach was taken. Semi-structured telephone interviews were held with mothers of children participating in a six-week dietary trial. Questions focused on their experiences of administering a special diet and influences on diet continuation after the trial. Interviews were voice recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was conducted using a constant comparative inductive approach with the aid of NVivo7 (QSR International Pty Ltd., Doncaster, Victoria, Australia).

Results:  Twenty-two parents were interviewed. Children participants were aged between 2 and 12 years (mean 6 years). Key themes arising about feasibility of the diet included maternal concern to please the entire family with food, sharing responsibility with the child and development of existing skills in food provision. Specialist medical advice impacted on continuation of the diet beyond the trial.

Conclusion:  This is one of only a few studies investigating how the extra burden of meeting the special dietary needs of one child, while feeding the family, is experienced by women. A more complete understanding of the barriers to implementing and sustaining dietary modification may eventually improve nutrition outcomes.

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