Enabling wider food choices increases oral intakes among patients who have undergone colorectal surgery

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A qualitative exploration of patients’ experiences with and perceptions of recommencing feeding after colorectal surgery

Rattray et al., JHND Early View unknown


Many patients who undergo lower gastrointestinal surgery neither recommence feeding within timeframes outlined by evidence‐based guidelines, nor meet their nutrition requirements in hospital. Given that the success of timely and adequate post‐operative feeding is largely reliant on patient adherence, the present study explored patients’ perceptions of recommencing feeding after colorectal surgery to determine areas of improvement to meet their needs and expectations.


This qualitative study involved one‐on‐one, semi‐structured interviews with patients receiving care after colorectal surgery in an Australian tertiary teaching hospital. Purposive sampling was used to ensure maximal variation in age, sex, procedural type and post‐operative nutrition care experience. Interviews were audio recorded, with data transcribed verbatim before being thematically analysed. Emergent themes and subthemes were discussed by all investigators to ensure consensus of interpretation.


Sixteen patients were interviewed (female 56%; age 61.5 ± 12.3 years). Three overarching themes emerged from the data: (i) patients make food‐related decisions based on ideologies, experience and trust; (ii) patients appreciate the opportunity to participate in their nutrition care; and (iii) how dietary information is communicated influences patients’ perceptions of and behaviours towards nutrition.


Enabling patients to select from a wide range of foods from post‐operative day 1 (by prescribing an unrestricted diet in line with evidence‐based practice guidelines) in conjunction with delivering clear, simple and encouraging dietary‐related information may facilitate patient participation in care and increase oral intakes among patients who have undergone colorectal surgery.


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