Fear of food and psychological pain experienced by patients with diverticulitis on clinically-imposed dietary restrictions: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Fiona Eberhardt, Julie Jenkins, Romina Nucera, Phoebe Dalwood, Megan Crichton, Russell Canavan, Skye Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Background and Aim: A scarcity of qualitative research has prevented the patient’s experience of dietary restrictions during treatment for acute un-complicated diverticulitis (AUD) from being heard. Despite being common practice, evidence does not support a restricted diet for inpatient treatment of AUD. This study aims to understand the impact on patient experience of dietary restrictions for the management of AUD.
Methods: Four semistructured in-depth face-to-face interviews were con-ducted with adults admitted to a public hospital in southeast Queensland,Australia, for treatment of AUD. The interpretive phenomenological anal-ysis (IPA) framework was used to guide the study design and data analysis. Results: The interrelated themes of social stigmatization, corrupted knowl-edge, vulnerability and burden, and locus of control were found to sit within the broad drivers of fear of food and psychological pain. Fear of food is the vehicle of blame for an unknown etiology of diverticulitis, resulting in the corruption of knowledge by all stakeholders, including the patient, family members, friends, and health professionals. The unnec-essary dietary restrictions imposed clinically and by the patients themselves contribute to a loss of culture, a high internal locus of control, and social stigmatization. As a result, patients expressed vulnerability and a sense of burden on the hospital staff, family members, and friends, leading to a broad ongoing experience of psychological pain.
Conclusion: The findings indicate that current inpatient dietary manage-ment of AUD is associated with long-term psychological pain in pa-tients, with fear of food as the trigger for this experience. This study highlights that food has a profound effect on patients’ emotional, cul-tural, and social values and signifies the importance of avoiding unnec-essary dietary restriction for patients with AUD. The findings provide an opportunity to improve patient care by focusing on reducing fear and ad-dressing concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number379
Pages (from-to)197
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue numberS2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
EventGastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) Australian Gastroenterology Week (AGW): “The Universe Within” - Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 8 Sep 201910 Sep 2019

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