Mealtimes in palliative care contexts : Perspectives of patients, partners, and registered nurses

Sammanfattning: The overall aim was to explore patients’, partners’, and registered nurses’ (RNs)experiences of mealtimes in palliative care contexts. Qualitative (studies I, II, IVand V) and quantitative (study IV) study designs were used to explore the experiences of mealtimes in palliative care from various perspectives. Three interview studies (studies I, II, V), a mixed-method systematic review (study III),and a cross-sectional study (study IV), were conducted. The findings showed that patient’s appreciated support that resembled their needs and wishes during hampered eating. Being encouraged to eat could both reduce and induce distress and well-being, social life was affected. Food and eating had existential loading (I, III). The partners described how they tried to support their dying partner by striving to maintain ordinariness around food and mealtimes, as well as finding new ways to support eating (II). RNs highlighted that food and mealtimes in palliative care cause psychosocial distress for patients and their families. Exploration implies that RNs perceptions align with patients’and families’, indicating awareness of the challenges that patients and families face (IV). RNs in palliative care are well prepared to support patients with eating challenges related to physical problems, but might be less prepared to support existential, psychological, and social needs (V).In conclusion, efforts to minimize the distress that patients and families experience in relation to mealtimes in palliative care are required. An area in need of further development is how to support RNs in communicating about food and mealtimes in palliative care to support patients’, partners’, and families’ well-being at the patient’s end-of-life.