Original Research

Preparedness to implement national enteral nutritional therapy practice guidelines: An observational study of primary health care institutions in South Africa

Nomaxabiso M. Mooi, Busisiwe P. Ncama
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3056 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3056 | © 2022 Nomaxabiso Mildred Mooi, Busisiwe Purity Ncama | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2021 | Published: 31 January 2022

About the author(s)

Nomaxabiso M. Mooi, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Busisiwe P. Ncama, Department of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Despite the long-term consequences of malnutrition in hospitalised patients, nutritional practice guidelines for adults, particularly in the recovery phase are rarely implemented in community based primary health care settings.

Aim: This study aimed at assessing the current practice to establish preparedness for effective implementation of the 2016 South African Enteral Nutrition Practice Guidelines for Adults.

Setting: This study was conducted in a district hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, a community health centre, two primary health care (PHC) clinics and one household.

Methods: Non-participant observations were conducted to observe 10 purposefully selected health care professionals involved in nutritional therapy provision to adults, a patient on home enteral nutrition (HEN) and a family caregiver. Content analysis helped identify predominant themes that emerged in the study.

Results: Observation results showed that the national enteral nutritional (EN) therapy practice guidelines were not available in all health care institutions. Health care professionals were not aware of them and the care users confirmed that they attended HEN related follow-up care at institutions that prescribed and inserted their feeding tubes. Two major themes that emerged in this study include positive factors and negative factors that influence implementation of the guideline.

Conclusion: The study identified factors that can have significant influence on the implementation of the national enteral nutritional therapy practice guidelines, a necessary step for changing clinical practice and thus clinical outcomes of patients. The EN/HEN training and the provision of necessary resources are needed to improve the situation. More research on the strategies for the dissemination of guidelines is essential to improve awareness and thus adoption and implementation.



preparedness; enteral nutritional therapy; practice guidelines; implementation; health cre professionals; primary health care; illness


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