Stressors, mediators, and health care outcomes of home enteral nutrition in family caregivers and their older adult care recipients

Heidi Jaye Silver, Florida International University


Family caregivers manage home enteral nutrition (HEN) for over 77% of an estimated 1 of every 400 Medicare recipients. Increasing usage of HEN in older adults combined with reliance on family caregivers raises concerns for the quality, outcomes, and costs of care. These concerns are relevant in light of Medicare limitations on nursing assistance and non-reimbursement for nutrition services, despite annual costs of over $600 million. This study applied stress process theories to assess stressor, mediator, and outcome variables salient to HEN and caregiving. In-home structured interviews occurred with a multi-ethnic sample of 30 caregiving dyads at 1–3 months after discharge on HEN. Care recipients were aged ≥60 (M = 68.4 years) and did not have dementia. Caregivers were aged ≥21, unpaid, and lived within 45 minutes of care recipients. Caregivers performed an average of 19.7 tasks daily for 61.9 hours weekly. Training needs were identified for 33 functional, care management, technical, and nutritional tasks. Preparedness scores were low (M = 1.73/4.0), and positively correlated with competence, self-rated quality of care and positive feelings, and negatively with overload, role captivity, and negative feelings (Ps < .05). Caregivers had multiple changes in lifestyle and dietary behaviors. Lifestyle changes positively correlated with overload, and negatively with preparedness and positive feelings. Dietary changes positively correlated with number of tasks, overload, role captivity and negative feelings, and negatively with preparedness (Ps < .01). Fifty-seven percent of caregivers aged >50 were at nutrition risk. Care recipients fared worse. Average weight change was −4.35 pounds (P < .001). Physical complications interrupted daily enteral infusions. Water intake was half of fluid need and associated with signs of dehydration (P < .001). Physical and social function was poor, with older subjects more impaired ( P < .04). Those with better prepared or less overloaded caregivers had higher functionality and QOL (P < .002). Complications, type of feeding tube, and caregiver preparedness correlated with frequency of health care utilization (Ps < .05). Efficacy of HEN in older adults requires specialized caregiver training, attention to caregivers' needs, and frequent monitoring from a highly skilled multidisciplinary team including dietitians. ^

Subject Area

Gerontology|Health Sciences, Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Silver, Heidi Jaye, "Stressors, mediators, and health care outcomes of home enteral nutrition in family caregivers and their older adult care recipients" (2001). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3031609.