A Lack of Knowledge and a Fear of Food Triggers Suffering in Patients with a History of Acute Diverticulitis: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Fiona Eberhardt, Julie Jenkins-Chapman, Romina Nucera, Phoebe Dalwood, Russell Canavan, Skye Marshall

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Rationale: The inpatient dietary management for diverticulitis routinely includes dietary restrictions for inpatient management despite a lack of evidence for this approach. There is also a dearth of qualitative research which prevents understanding of the patient experience, a barrier to providing patient-centred care. This study aims to understand the impact of dietary restrictions for the management of acute diverticulitis on patient experience.
Methods: Three semi-structured in-depth face to face interviews were conducted with adult patients admitted to a public hospital in South East Queensland, Australia for acute, uncomplicated diverticulitis treatment. Interviews were analysed following the interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) framework.
Results: Inter-related themes of knowledge, control, social stigmatisation, and vulnerability were found to sit within a broad experience driven by fear of food and suffering. Theme interpretation guided the development of a “diverticulitis fear and suffering framework” which explained a phenomenon experienced by the patients. Sitting in a context of a lack of knowledge by patients, family, and health professionals, food was used as a vehicle of blame and causality for diverticulitis occurrence. “Fear of food” was a trigger for a cycle, which commences with dietary restrictions and leads to stigma, loss of culture, failure, blame, guilt, vulnerability, and back to a fear of food. With each cycle, fear of food, dietary restrictions, and patient suffering worsen.
Conclusions: Considering patient experiences highlights the need for a multidisciplinary collaborative approach to avoid unnecessary dietary restrictions to prevent avoidable suffering by patients. Increased research regarding the dietary management of acute diverticulitis is essential to improve evidence-based practice to improve the quality of life for diverticulitis patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberMON-PO330
Pages (from-to)S180
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
Event41st ESPEN Congress on Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism: Nutrition - A Highway to Health - Krakow, Poland
Duration: 31 Aug 20193 Sep 2019


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