Background/aim: Enteral feedings are part of the daily mealtime experience for many caregivers of children with cerebral palsy. The scope of occupational therapy practice incorporates multiple aspects of the enteral feeding process. Yet, the research in this area is very limited. The purpose of this study was to provide practitioners with better understanding of the impact enteral feedings of children with cerebral palsy have on family mealtime routines.
Methods: Using a complimentary mixed method approach, data were obtained through an online survey containing the Satisfaction Questionnaire with Gastrostomy Feeding (SAGA-8) and supplementary questions, and qualitative semi-structured phone interviews. Participants were caregivers of children with cerebral palsy who receive their primary nutrition through a gastrostomy tube.
Results: This study's cohort consisted of n = 36, SAGA-8, and n = 6 in-depth interviews. The mean age of children of was 9.4 (6.94 SD) with a mean age of 3.4 (5.35 SD) when enteral feeding was introduced. While families' overall situations positively changed after the gastronomy tube placement, environmental barriers and length of feeding time continued to present a challenge to mealtime routines. The mixed methods data analysis revealed that successful adjustment to having a child with a gastronomy tube and problem solving are closely linked and a consistent part of mealtime experience.
Conclusion: Findings highlighted the necessity of comprehensive support from health professionals in achieving positive mealtime experience. Themes in this study indicated that caregivers would benefit from a professional with knowledge in the development and integration of rituals and routines to support positive outcomes.