‘It’s Just Food, Blended’: Exploring Parents’ Experiences of Choosing Blended Diet for Their Tube-fed Child

  • Sarah Helen Jane Durnan

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Aim: This doctoral research aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of parents’ experiences using a blended diet for their tube-fed child.

    Background: Parents of tube-fed children in the UK are increasingly choosing to blend their own food at home rather than use readily available commercially prepared enteral formula. This practice is commonly referred to as ‘blended diet’. There are currently no clinical guidelines on blended diet and the topic has been largely under-researched to date. Little is known about why parents choose to use blended diet and their experiences of the benefits or potential consequences. There was an urgent need for understanding to inform clinical practice.

    Methods: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was used. Fifteen in-depth qualitative interviews took place with parents who were found through the peer support Facebook group, Blended Diet UK.

    Findings: Five superordinate themes emerged through analysis of verbatim interview transcripts :‘Nothing to Lose’: feeling Desperate; ‘A Radical Change’: Improvements in Health and Wellbeing; ‘How Life Should be’: A Sense of Normality; ‘You Have to Muddle your way Through’ :Practical Challenges and ‘I Have to Fight for her to be fed Food’: Defending the Choice

    Conclusions: This research identified many original ideas previously not included in other research, such as wider influences on parent’s decision making, life changing improvements experienced by parents and inconsistent support from health professionals. It is the opinion of the researcher that a lack of research surrounding blended diet, especially to date, is a significant contributing factor to the absence of clear guidelines and inconsistent support. It is envisaged that this important and novel research will go some way to remedy this, but it is abundantly clear that further research is urgently needed in this area.

    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorJane Coad (Supervisor), Alexander Toft (Supervisor) & Helen Flaherty (Supervisor)

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