Purpose/Objectives: To describe eating-related experiences and informational needs of people following total laryngectomies.
Design: Descriptive study.
Setting: Internet-based laryngectomy support group in the United States.
Sample: 34 people with a laryngectomy (68% total laryngectomy, 29% with total plus radical neck dissection, and 3% with partial laryngectomy with radical neck dissection): 29 males, 5 females; mean age of 62 years.
Methods: Members of a laryngectomy support group completed a Food Eating Experiences and Diet Questionnaire designed by the investigators. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected.
Main Research Variables: Effect of laryngectomy on food choice, eating habits, and overall enjoyment of eating: perceptions of teaching received from healthcare professionals regarding potential eating difficulties as a result of laryngectomy.
Findings: 90% of the participants experienced a change in one or more aspects of eating. The most prominent changes were decreased sense of smell, decreased taste, decreased enjoyment of eating, and an increase in the length of time required to eat meals. Most participants were not satisfied with the information they received from healthcare professionals. Topics requiring emphasis during patient teaching were identified from participants' comments.
Conclusions: Total laryngectomy produced significant changes in factors related to eating that can affect nutritional intake and quality of life. Participants reported that most healthcare providers did not adequately prepare them for potential alterations in eating that can occur following a total laryngectomy.
Implications for Nursing Practice: Data from this study can be used to raise awareness of incidence and severity of changes in eating that occur after total laryngectomy and to improve patient preparation to cope with these changes.