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Care Manag J. 2006 Summer;7(2):79-85.

Tube feeding in advanced dementia: an exploratory survey of physician knowledge.

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St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, New York, NY 10011, USA.


The administration of artificial nutrition by means of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube in older persons in the advanced stages of dementia is commonplace, yet the treatment is associated with significant treatment burdens and unclear benefits in this population. In addition, there is wide and unexplained geographic variability in the use of PEG in advanced dementia, which may stem partly from physicians' lack of understanding about its indications, risks, benefits, and effect on quality of life in advanced dementia. This study was a mail survey undertaken to assess physician knowledge regarding tube feeding in advanced dementia and explore whether certification in geriatrics or other physician characteristics are associated with physician knowledge. To assess knowledge about tube feeding, we asked participants to rate the importance of commonly cited, but non-evidence based, indications for tube feeding in advanced dementia, including recurrent aspiration pneumonia, abnormal swallowing evaluations, abnormal nutritional parameters, preventing an uncomfortable death, and others. Discrepancies between physician knowledge and current evidence regarding tube feeding in advanced dementia were found, indicating a need for improved education ofprimary care physicians in order to ultimately provide better end-of-life care for patients with advanced dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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