Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Subject Categories

Critical Care | Critical Care Nursing


Dissertations, UMMS; Critical Care Nursing; Critical Illness; Enteral Nutrition; Intensive Care Units; Professional Practice; Respiration, Artificial


Mechanically ventilated critically ill patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) require enteral feedings to maintain adequate nutrition during critical illness. Delivery of adequate enteral nutrition is also critical to the recovery of critically ill patients. Enteral nutrition has been shown to decrease length of time on the ventilator, decrease length of stay and ICU and decrease mortality. Despite all the evidence regarding the benefits of enteral nutrition, critically ill patients continue to receive less than their prescribed calories and protein. Nurses are in a unique position to influence the delivery of enteral nutrition. Nursing practices that contribute to underfeeding must be identified and corrected to ensure adequate delivery of nutrients is achieved. The purpose of the study was to describe the professional practice of critical care nurses regarding enteral feeding in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients. Several barriers were identified by the participants in the study that contributed to underfeeding including inconsistent practice regarding gastric residual volume, holding feeds when changing patient position and lack of a standardized protocol for enteral feeding. Also identified in the study was the idea that nurses do not see enteral feeding as a life-saving intervention. It is not the “sexy part” of what ICU nurses do. Enteral feeding guidelines need to be developed to include those interventions that are important to nursing practice in order to increase enteral feeding times and improve patient outcomes.

Rights and Permissions

© Copyright by Margaret Emmons 2014. All Rights Reserved.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.