A.S.P.E.N. Issues Statement about New Research Study on Feeding Tubes and Dementia

May 17, 2012

 The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) today commends Dr. Joan Teno and colleagues, on the study they published this week: Feeding Tubes and the Prevention or Healing of Pressure UlcersArch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):697-701. 

Enteral nutrition (tube feeding) is a therapeutic measure for patients unable to eat or drink adequate amounts of food to sustain their nutritional status. As with other therapies, enteral nutrition has certain indications where it has been shown to improve outcomes. A recent A.S.P.E.N. review paper—Disease-Related Malnutrition and Enteral Nutrition Therapy: A Significant Problem with a Cost-Effective Solutionhas outlined these indications. 

“We commend Dr. Teno and her team for doing the type of research needed to sort out those patients who have improved outcomes using Enteral Nutrition and those who do not,” said Peggi Guenter, PhD, RN, Senior Director of Clinical Practice, Advocacy, and Research Affairs, A.S.P.E.N. “Enteral Nutrition is not a panacea but an important therapy to be used appropriately.”

Dr. Teno’s paper, along with other systematic reviews, have shown that patients with advanced dementia do not have improved survival or a reduced risk of aspiration pneumonia with feeding tubes. A recent and comprehensive review found the evidence inconclusive regarding the benefits of feeding tubes (Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009;2:CD007209). Ethical and medical decisions about when and how to feed patients of all kinds are challenging for healthcare professionals, patients, and their families.  This important research clearly helps with those decision-making processes outlined in the A.S.P.E.N. 2010 Ethics Position Paper.


For more information on Enteral Nutrition and its uses, please contact Peggi Guenter at [email protected]