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Subjective Distresses of Nasogastric Tube Feeding

Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
  • Education


Health care professionals assume that tube feeding is an unpleasant, distressing experience for patients, which is only partially substantiated by experience. Thirty patients were interviewed via a tube feeding and hospital experience checklist (a 47–item interview schedule). Common experiences were operationally defined as those felt by at least 50%; subjectively distressful experiences were those identified by patients as causing distress. The most common and most distressful experiences of nasogastric tube feeding were: sensory irritations and sensory deprivation. The psychosensory irritation experiences were: thirst, sore nose or throat, dry mouth, runny nose, a tube in the nose, taking food through a tube, breathing through the mouth, breathing with a tube in the nose, taking food in a treatment type container, and taking food with a different texture and smell than usual. The psychosensory deprivation experiences were: an unsatisfied appetite for certain foods, deprivation of tasting, chewing, swallowing food, and drinking liquids, limited mobility, and deprivation of regular food. Except for burping, gastrointestinal symptoms were not common though they were usually distressful. This information has been used to develop teaching programs which are being tested for effectiveness in reducing distress associated with nasogastric tube feeding.

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