Evaluation of the Benefits of Gastric Tube Feeding in an Elderly Population
James P. Weaver, MD;
Patricia Odell, RN;
Charlotte Nelson, MS
Arch Fam Med. 1993;2(9):953-956.
To assess the benefits of gastric tube feeding in an elderly community hospital population.
One hundred consecutive patients who required feeding gastrostomies from July 1984 through June 1987.
Durham (NC) Regional Hospital, a 380-bed community hospital.
Patients were evaluated using a quality of life scale (QL scale) adapted from Spitzer's QL Index. The evaluation was based on hospital records at the time of tube placement and interviews with patients or family members at followup between June 1991 and March 1992. Subjective evaluation of the benefits of gastric tube feeding were obtained in interviews with patients or their families at follow-up.
Overall there was no significant change in the objective evaluation of quality of life at follow-up. Men, patients over 76 years of age, and patients with chronic illnesses such as multiple strokes or dementia showed the poorest response on the QL scale. Subjective evaluation by patients or their family members was positively correlated with objective evaluation on the QL scale. Family members of patients who showed the poorest response on the QL scale were more likely than other family members to respond no to the question, "Would you want this done to you if you were in his/her situation?"
Our QL scale provides a good indication of patients' and family members' subjective evaluation of the benefits of gastrostomy tube feeding after 4 to 8 years. Thus, the scale should be helpful to physicians who must consult with patients and their families and make decisions about the use of this procedure. The significant discrepancy between family members' evaluations of the benefit of the procedure to the patient and their refusal of the procedure for themselves if they were in the patient's situation confirms the need for advance directives and the importance of conscientious implementation of the Patient Self Determination Act of 1990.
From Central Carolina Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgical Associates, Durham, NC.
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