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Aust Crit Care. 2016 May;29(2):68-76. doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2015.10.001. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

A multi-faceted, family-centred nutrition intervention to optimise nutrition intake of critically ill patients: The OPTICS feasibility study.

Author information

NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Nursing, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University and Gold Coast Health, Australia; Gold Coast Health, 1 Hospital Dr., Southport, QLD 4215, Australia. Electronic address:
Gold Coast Health, 1 Hospital Dr., Southport, QLD 4215, Australia. Electronic address:
Nepean Hospital, Derby Street, Kingswood, NSW 2747, Australia. Electronic address:
Metabolic Syndrome Canada, Canada. Electronic address:
Gold Coast Health, 1 Hospital Dr., Southport, QLD 4215, Australia. Electronic address:
Clinical Evaluation Research Unit, Kingston General Hospital, 76 Stuart Street, Suite 5-416, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 2V7; Queen's University, 99 University Avenue, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6. Electronic address:



Critically ill patients are at risk of developing malnutrition which contributes to functional decline and hospital re-admission. Strategies to promote nutritional intake have had a modest effect on protein-calorie intake. None have addressed the recovery trajectory of critical illness or incorporated family as advocates.


We evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of a family-centred intervention designed to optimise nutrition during and following recovery from critical illness.


A prospective cohort study.


Two Australian adult intensive care units.


A convenience sample of 49 patients and their families was recruited. Patients ≥18 years of age anticipated to require mechanical ventilation for at least 2 days were eligible, provided their family visited regularly and were able to communicate in English. Health care professionals including doctors (n=4), nurses (n=20) and dietitians (n=2) also participated.


Demographic data were obtained from participants. Recruitment and retention informed study feasibility. Individual and group interviews informed participant views on the acceptability, perception of and experience with the intervention. Inductive analysis was used to analyse qualitative data.


187 (15.8%) patients met the eligibility criteria; 49 patients and 51 family members consented to participate for a 20.3% consent failure rate. We interviewed 33 (67.3%) family members and 13 (43.4%) patients, all of whom considered the intervention acceptable and who would participate in a similar intervention again, given the opportunity. Inductive analysis of qualitative data from all participants identified three themes: variability in in-hospital nutrition support, families as advocates for optimal nutrition, and partnering with health care providers.


We described a feasible and acceptable family centred intervention that may be effective in promoting nutrition intake in critically ill patients. Further research is required to examine contextual factors impacting implementation of family-centred interventions, particularly those that involve active family participation and advocacy.


Critical illness; Family; Nutrition; Partnership

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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