Nurses’ perceptions of barriers to enteral nutrition (EN) practice in critical care settings in Saudi Arabia have been investigated in a new study. The aim of the study was to identify the factors influencing nurses’ perceptions and to explore the differences between adult and pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) nurses.
The study included mostly female nurses, who reported that the most important barriers to EN practice were related to EN delivery and the availability of resources in critical care settings. The least important barriers were related to the attitudes and behaviors of critical care providers. However, the study found that the absence of routine discussion of nutritional therapy during ward rounds was the only barrier significantly different between nurses working in adult ICUs and those working in pediatric ICUs.
The results of the study also showed that nurses’ responses to some barriers varied according to sociodemographic characteristics. Gender was found to be the only variable that statistically influenced the overall rating scores of nurses’ perception of EN barriers, with female nurses having higher rating scores than males. The geographical region of the workplace also influenced the perception of barriers, with nurses in smaller regions perceiving more barriers related to staff availability and the availability of EN formulas.
Identifying barriers to EN delivery is important for optimizing nursing practice in critical care settings and ensuring that patients receive adequate nutrition. The study found that frequent tube displacement and reinsertion was a major barrier to EN practice, as it can lead to prolonged periods of feeding interruptions. Other barriers included the unavailability of appropriate EN formulations and the delay in initiating motility medications for patients not tolerating EN.
The study highlights the need for a supportive ICU workplace that values and prioritizes nutritional care. It also suggests that individualized nutrition support based on patients’ baseline characteristics and requirements should be implemented in pediatric ICUs. The study also emphasizes the importance of ongoing education and interdisciplinary collaboration to facilitate consistent and evidence-based EN practices.
Overall, this study provides valuable insights into nurses’ perceptions of EN barriers in critical care settings in Saudi Arabia. It is the first study of its kind in the country and contributes to the understanding of factors influencing EN practice. However, the study acknowledges its limitations, including the small sample size, and calls for future research with a larger sample to further validate its findings..