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  • A comprehensive study shows that 90.5% of telemedically supported patients successfully transition from enteral to oral food intake.
  • The netcoaching method at home is thus even marginally more successful than the weaning as part of onsite treatment at the hospital in Graz.

For many children, tube feeding is an important and life sustaining intervention, which is designed to be temporary. Once it is no longer medically necessary, the food intake via the tube should be terminated, in the least to avoid possible complications or even to prevent dependency.

There are two proven methods of weaning a child from the tube: The weaning as part of a multi-week hospital stay. Or in the form of intensive, telemedical care, which supports the family at home in their familiar surroundings, which also helps to avoid potential risks of infection.

A new, comparative study by the University Hospital Graz has now, for the first time, examined the efficacy of both methods. The result: Support via netcoaching is at least as successful as onsite treatment, while it, in addition, avoids the risk of infection.

netcoachingonsiteoutcomes

Source: Journal of peadiatrics and child health

Over the course of 48 months, researchers compared the success of these two methods, both of which are based on the so-called “Graz model”, an interdisciplinary tube-weaning program, which has been developed at University Hospital Graz over the past 20 years and pursues a psychosomatic approach. The results for both groups are impressive:

81.3% of patients (170 out of 209) treated at the clinic could feed orally following the end of the program. In the netcoaching group, it was even 90.5% of children (153 out of 169), who were freed from their tube feeds, which makes the telemedical version the slightly better performing version.

The study also showed that the number of children, who do not manage to transition to oral nutrition completely, is significantly higher in the group treated at the hospital (15.3% compared to 4.7%). The study’s authors explain this as a result of the hospital program ending after three weeks, whereas the support by netcoaching-experts continues until up to 35 days after the last tube feeding.

For parents open to modern technology, the internet-based counselling thus represents an extremely attractive, secure, child-oriented and gentle option to help their tube-fed child develop sustainable eating habits without a change in environment.

Source: Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (2014): Sabine Marinschek S, Dunitz-Scheer M, Pahsini K, Geher B, Scheer P. Weaning children off enteral nutrition by netcoaching versus onsite treatment: A comparative study.

Christof Huemer