Declining oral intake towards the end of life: how to talk about it? A qualitative study

Jean Clark, Natasja J H Raijmakers, Simon Allan, Lia van Zuylen, Agnes van der Heide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Decreasing oral intake is common towards the end of life and a potential source of distress and concern for patients, relatives, whānau and clinicians. This paper provides insight to inform practice regarding clinicians' perceptions, practices, responses and communication with patients and their companions regarding declining oral intake towards the end of life.

METHODS: In this qualitative study ten specialist palliative care staff participated in semi-structured interviews. Qualitative thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

FINDINGS: Three themes were identified: declining oral intake was a natural part of the dying process; responding empathetically; and clinicians described specific aims and ways regarding communication.

CONCLUSION: Insight into clinicians' endeavours to manage declining oral intake and support the wellbeing of patients, families, and whānau can inform practice. However the perspectives of family, whānau and health professionals continue to show significant variation regarding the communication given and received around declining oral intake towards the end of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-82
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Empathy
  • Family
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing
  • Humans
  • Nurses
  • Palliative Medicine
  • Physicians
  • Qualitative Research
  • Terminal Care

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