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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998 May;53(3):M207-13.

Does artificial enteral nutrition prolong the survival of institutionalized elders with chewing and swallowing problems?

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Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged Research and Training Institute, Department of Medicine of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



There is a lack of prognostic data regarding tube feeding of institutionalized elderly people. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of feeding tubes on the survival of nursing home residents with chewing and swallowing problems, and to follow the course of the tube-fed residents over one year.


We conducted a cohort study with 12-month follow-up using Minimum Data Set resident assessments from 1991. Participants included 5,266 nursing home residents over the age of 65 with chewing and swallowing problems living in 272 Washington state nursing homes. Residents who had a feeding tube were identified. Baseline clinical characteristics and 12-month survival were compared for residents with and without feeding tubes. The proportion of tube-fed residents who became tube-free during the follow-up period was determined, and clinical features that predicted this outcome were examined.


Among the residents with chewing and swallowing problems, 10.5% had a feeding tube. After adjusting for potential confounding covariates, tube-fed residents had a significantly higher one-year mortality rate than those without feeding tubes (risk ratio, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.17-1.76). Of the 430 residents with feeding tubes who survived the follow-up period, 25.1% became free of a feeding tube. Age less than 87 years was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of becoming tube-free (odds ratio, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.03-2.6).


Residents selected for feeding tube placement have poorer survival after one year than residents who are not tube-fed. However, the feeding tubes are removed in a significant proportion of residents who survive one year. Residents with a potentially reversible condition, for whom the feeding tubes are a temporary intervention, need to be identified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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