Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes are placed in elderly adults in Japan with advanced dementia regardless of expectation of improvement in quality of life

The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging (Impact Factor: 2.39). 05/2014; 18(5):503-509. DOI: 10.1007/s12603-014-0011-9

ABSTRACT Background: The Japan Geriatrics Society published a guideline on the decision-making process for health care for the elderly in June 2012, noting that withholding or withdrawing feeding tubes are treatment options that should be discussed during the decision-making process. Arguments against the guideline posit that the insertion of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube feeding may improve quality of life (QOL) for elderly adults and their relatives. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to explore (a) expected outcomes with PEG tube placement and (b) outcomes from PEG tube feeding in long-term care settings among elderly adults with advanced dementia in Japan. Design: This study was conducted using a cross-sectional study design. Setting: A total of 381 hospitals and 985 long-term care facilities provided sets of completed questionnaires. Participants: There were 1 199 hospital patients and 2 160 long-term care patients aged 65 years or older with PEG tube placement included in the analysis. Measurements: The nurses or physicians at each hospital provided information on the level of dementia at the time of PEG tube placement and on the expected outcomes of PEG tube feeding for elderly hospital patients. The nurses or other direct care workers at each facility provided information on the level of dementia and outcomes from PEG tube feeding for the long-term care patients. Results: In the hospital patient group, 62.9% of patients had advanced dementia. PEG tube feeding was expected to prolong survival for 51.1% of hospital patients with advanced dementia. Improved QOL was expected for 39.1% of them. In the long-term care patient group, 61.7% of patients had advanced dementia. The rate of patients enjoying their own lives was lower in long-term care patients who had advanced dementia (4.2%) than in the other patients (16.4%). Approximately 60% of relatives reported satisfaction with the QOL of the patients, both in the long-term care patients with advanced dementia and the other patients. Conclusion: Our results question the assumption that PEG tube feeding may improve QOL among elderly adults with advanced dementia. The national health policy should explore an approach to help patients, relatives, and practitioners make decisions about feeding options.

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Miharu Nakanishi