Insights into paediatric tube feeding dependence: A Speech-language pathology perspective

Emily Jones, Helen Southwood, Catherine Cook, Tom Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To explore possible factors contributing to paediatric tube feeding dependency from the speech-language pathology perspective. Tube feeding dependency can have serious repercussions for children and their families with failed or slow weaning/transitioning from tube to oral feeding, more likely after the age of five.

Method: A mixed methods approach was conducted. During the first quantitative phase, an online national survey of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) from the health and non-health sectors was carried out followed by interviews with a subset of the respondents. Forty-three SLPs completed the survey. In the second qualitative phase, 10 participants from the survey were interviewed in depth as to their opinions about why tube dependency occurs. Survey data from phase one were analysed using descriptive statistics and chi square comparisons. Interview data were categorised using thematic analysis. Findings from both methodologies were combined to report the results.

Result: Two interlinking meta-themes were identified from the combined data sets. These were: (1) Medicalisation of tube fed children in infancy as a root cause of tube feeding dependency and (2) Fragmentation of the tube fed child’s continuity of care. The specific results indicated several possible reasons for tube feeding dependency including medical emphasis on weight gain, prolonged nasogastric tube feeding and waiting too long for transition from tube to oral feeding. A lack of integrated care and clinician confidence in non-health settings also appeared to be a factor contributing to tube feeding dependency.

Conclusion: Early and ongoing biomedical focus on weight gain affected long-term goals for transitioning leading, subsequently, to tube feeding becoming normalised by school age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-337
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Insights into paediatric tube feeding dependence: A Speech-language pathology perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this