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caregivers, eating, hospice, New Zealand, patients



  1. Taylor, Elizabeth Johnston PhD, RN


Using a phenomenological approach, this study generated descriptive evidence about the psychosocial facet of eating-related distress among New Zealand hospice patients and family carers. Informants included 13 patients and 8 carers; 7 of the 21 informants were ethnically indigenous to the South Pacific. In-depth, audio-recorded and transcribed interviews allowed thematic analysis, which produced a thick description of the meanings that these informants held about the purpose and function of food at the end of life, as well as goals and strategies for eating. Underlying these goals and strategies was the intent to convey love (for family carers) and to not thwart this love (for patients). These findings contribute to the emerging evidence that documents how the psychosocial facets of eating-related distress are crucial to tackle if the distress is to be holistically addressed. For example, applying Mauss' theory of gift exchange to these findings suggests that eating-related distress can be minimized if patients can be taught to reframe how to reciprocate the gift of food in ways other than eating it.