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Abstract

Background : For critically ill children hospitalised in paediatric intensive care units, adequate nutrition reduces their risk of morbidity and mortality. Barriers may impede optimal nutritional support in this population. Moreover, physicians are usually responsible for prescribing nutrition, although they are not experts. Therefore, tools may be used to assist in nutritional decision-making, such as nutrition protocols. Objectives : The objective of this two-stage qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of physicians about their management of enteral nutrition in a paediatric intensive care unit and the implementation of a nutrition protocol and computerised system. Methods : This study involved semistructured interviews with physicians at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland. Research dietitians conducted interviews before (stage one) and after (stage two) the implementation of a nutrition protocol and computerised system. During stage one, six junior physicians and five fellows were interviewed. At stage two, 12 junior physicians, 12 fellows, and five senior physicians were interviewed. Interviews were recorded, with data transcribed verbatim before a thematic analysis using a framework method. Results : Three themes emerged from thematic analysis: “nutritional knowledge”, “nutritional practices”, and “resources to manage nutrition”. During stage one, physicians, especially junior physicians, reported a lack of nutritional knowledge for critically ill children and stated that nutritional issues primarily depended on senior physicians, who themselves had various practices. All physicians were in favour of a nutrition protocol and computerised system. At stage two, interviewees stated that they used both tools regularly. They reported improved nutritional knowledge, more systematic and consistent nutritional practices, and increased attention to nutrition. Conclusions : The implementation of a nutrition protocol and computerised system by a multiprofessional team helped physicians in the paediatric intensive care unit to manage nutritional support and increase their attention to nutrition.

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