Background: Many palliative care patients have a reduced oral intake during their illness. The management of this can include the provision of medically assisted nutrition with the aim of prolonging the length of life of a patient, improving their quality of life, or both. Objectives: To determine the effect of medically assisted nutrition on the quality and length of life of palliative care patients.Search strategy: Studies were identified from searching The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (1966 to 2008), EMBASE (1980 to 2008), CINAHL, CANCERLIT, Caresearch, Dissertation abstracts, SCIENCE CITATION INDEX and the reference lists of all eligible trials, key textbooks, and previous systematic reviews. The date of the latest search was July 2008. Selection criteria: All relevant randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or prospective controlled trials (if no RCTs were found). Data collection and analysis: There were no RCTs or prospectively controlled trials found that met the inclusion criteria. Main results: There were four prospective non-controlled trials (including one qualitative study) that studied medically assisted nutrition in palliative care participants, and one Cochrane systematic review (on Motor Neurone disease), but no RCTs or prospective controlled studies. Authors’ conclusions: There are insufficient good quality trials to make any recommendations for practice with regards to the use of medically assisted nutrition in palliative care patients.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Issue 4, p. 1-17