Preferences of dietitians and nurses for artificial nutrition and hydration

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Evelyn B. Enrione

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kenneth W. Goodman

Third Advisor's Name

Michele W. Ciccazzo

Date of Defense



Dietitians are responsible for recommending artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) for elderly patients with a diminished mental capacity. Research is non-existent regarding how the beliefs of dietitians influence their recommendations; however, data are available on the attitudes of physicians and nurses regarding ANH. This study was designed to determine how the beliefs of dietitians and nurses affect their decisions regarding administering ANH. Dietitians and nurses, 1500 of each, were asked to agree or disagree with thirteen belief statements related to ANH. The participants also recommended ANH for eight scenarios, which depicted elderly patients with different moods and mental capacities. Results indicated dietitians significantly (p<0.001) more than nurses agreed with the belief statement "when in doubt feed". In all the scenarios, dietitians recommended ANH significantly (p<0.001) more than nurses. Nurses would recommend a trial (p<0.01) or not recommend (p<0.01) ANH more than dietitians. Also, a greater percentage of professionals had a tendency to recommend feeding for the happy patient rather than the unhappy patient. A patient's mood may influence a professional's decision as whether or not to recommend ANH. Dietitians are more likely to recommend ANH to elderly patients with a diminished mental capacity whereas nurses are less aggressive in their recommendations.



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