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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


DEL OLMO-GARCIA, María Dolores et al. Nutrition in palliative care: guidelines from the Working Group on Bioethics, Spanish Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (SENPE). Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2022, vol.39, n.4, pp.936-944.  Epub Oct 31, 2022. ISSN 1699-5198.

Palliative care provides a holistic approach and care for patients with a terminal illness and their families. In palliative care physical complaints as well as emotional, social and spiritual aspects are considered. Nutritional care should be also considered within palliative support. For those working in the nutritional support field, to withhold or withdraw nutritional support may be an ethical dilemma in this scenario. The controversy starts when considering nutrition and hydration as basic care or a treatment.

The goals of nutrition support in palliative care patients differ from common ones, aiming to improve quality of life, survival or both. The decision should be based on a consideration of prognosis (length of survival), quality of life, and risks-benefits ratio. Regarding oral nutrition (with or without oral supplements) the idea prevails of “comfort feeding”, based on providing oral feeding till discomfort or avoidance develop. There is no evidence on the benefit of specific nutrients, despite the fact that omega-3 FAs may have some positive effects in patients with cancer. Regarding nutritional support (enteral or parenteral), no scientific evidence is present, so the decision needs to be agreed according to the desires and beliefs of the patient and their family, and based on a consensus with the interdisciplinary team on the aims of this support.

Keywords : Artificial nutrition; Advance medical directives; Agony; Nutritional support; Terminal illness.

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