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Feeding Tube Use Down in Patients With Advanced Dementia

Over past 15 years, practice dropped by half in nursing homes

TUESDAY, Aug. 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The use of feeding tubes for nursing home patients with advanced dementia is declining, according to a research letter published in the Aug. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included national data on residents of U.S. nursing homes. The researchers looked at the period between 2000 and 2014, and identified 71,251 residents with advanced dementia who were unable to feed themselves. The average age was 84.

The investigators found that between 2000 and 2014, the proportion of residents in U.S. nursing homes with advanced dementia and feeding tubes declined from 11.7 to 5.7 percent. The rate of feeding tube use declined from 8.6 to 3.1 percent among whites. Among black patients with advanced dementia, the use of feeding tubes declined from 37.5 to 17.5 percent.

“The decline roughly parallels the emergence of research, and subsequent expert opinion and recommendations by national organizations, discouraging this practice,” study leader Susan Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior scientist at Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston, told HealthDay.

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