Eating Difficulties and Relationship with Nutritional Status among Patients with Dementia

Ciliz O., TÜLEK Z., Hanagasi H., BİLGİÇ B., Gurvit I. H.

Journal of Nursing Research, vol.31, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1097/jnr.0000000000000538
  • Journal Name: Journal of Nursing Research
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: dementia, eating difficulties, K ey W ords, malnutrition, self-feeding skills
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Background One of the most common behavioral problems in patients with dementia is eating problems, which are known to increase the risk of malnutrition. However, few studies have been conducted in this patient group regarding the relationship between eating difficulties and nutritional status. Purpose This study was designed to determine the eating difficulties faced by patients with dementia and to evaluate the relationship in this population between eating difficulties and malnutrition. Methods This study was carried out in a dementia outpatient clinic of a university hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. This cross-sectional, case-control study included 50 patients and 50 healthy controls as participants. Participants were assessed for eating difficulties and for nutritional, cognitive, and functional statuses. Results The patients with dementia had more difficulties in terms of self-feeding skills. Although problems related to manipulating food on the plate and the use of utensils were not seen in the control group, these problems were found in 30% of the participants in the dementia group (p <.001). Moreover, 30% of the patients in the dementia group were unable to eat without assistance (p <.001). Associations were found between eating difficulties and age, duration of illness, and cognitive and functional (basic and instrumental activities of daily living) statuses. In addition, self-feeding skills were found to be associated with nutritional status. Rate of malnutrition or risk of malnutrition was higher in patients with dementia than in those in the control group. Conclusions In this study, compared with the control group, patients with dementia had more problems in self-feeding skills such as manipulation of food on a plate, use of utensils, need for assistive tools, ability to eat without assistance, and negative eating behaviors (refusal to eat). An association was found between eating difficulties and nutritional status. Evaluating eating difficulties is recommended in patients with dementia to prevent nutritional deterioration.