Nurse practitioners’ attitudes to nutritional challenges dealing with the patients’ nutritional needs and ability to care for themselves in a fast track program

Jytte Graarup, Preben Ulrich Pedersen, Merete Bjerrum


Background: Nutrition plays an important role to the success of fast track programs, but under nutrition are still reported. Nutritional care seems to be a low priority among nurses even though it is well-known that insufficient nutrition has severe consequences for the patients. The aim is to report to what extent a training program has made Nutritional Nurse Practitioners aware of the nutritional care for short-term hospitalized patients, and how they deal with patients’ nutritional needs and ability to provide self-care in the context of a fast track program.

Methods: Deductive content analysis was used to analyse data from four focus group interviews. Sixteen Nutritional Nurse Practitioners from either medical or surgery wards participated. The Nutritional Nurse Practitioners were inter-
viewed twice. The interviews were recorded and verbally transcribed.

Results: In the Nutritional Nurse Practitioners’ opinion nutritional care is as important as any other treatment. Nutritional care should be planned with the patients to stimulate the patient to be active during admission and after discharges. Therefore, information and guidance to the patients and their relatives about nutrition is essential. It seems to be difficult for the Nutritional Nurse Practitioners to focus on nutritional care when it comes to everyday. Firstly due to time constraints and secondly higher priority is given to tasks delegated by the physician.

Conclusions: Despite Nutritional Nurse Practitioners are responsible for nutritional care and possess knowledge and skills to care for patients at nutritional risk, they find it challenging to handle nutritional problems. They do not explicitly pay attention to patients on fast track programs, but give higher priority to tasks delegated by the physician. This priority and the fact that Nutritional Nurse Practitioners find it difficult to exemplify evidence-based nursing interventions for specific nutritional problems, makes the nursing profession imperceptible to patients, relatives and healthcare professionals as a resource within its own area of responsibility.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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