The psychosocial impact on parents of tube feeding their child.

A review of 13 papers investigating parents’ experience of long-term tube feeding in disabled children and young people identified a significant impact on parents and families related to oral feeding, decision making and tube feeding itself. Mixed messages and pressure from health professionals and relatives made decision making about tube feeding more difficult for parents. Making the decision to tube feed or proceed to gastrostomy was described in terms of ‘giving in’. Parents expressed a need for consistent, accurate information. Once tube feeding was established there is a positive impact on the lives of the child and family – although some parents reported reduced support and continued feelings of inadequacy. The significance parents attach to oral feeding and their information and respite care needs when tube feeding must be recognised and further explored.