Year 2021
October 2021


Abstract Title
Anorexia amongst palliative patients in our local setting: A qualitative study comparing caregivers' and healthcare workers’ perspective of anorexia on patients



MOH Holdings Pte Ltd (MOHH)1, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital2 

Background & Hypothesis

Anorexia is a prevalent problem amongst palliative patients and has negative physical and psychological impact on patients. Little is known about its impact on caregivers of patients. The study aims to understand the impact of anorexia on caregivers from the perspective of caregivers and healthcare professionals(HCP), looking at similar or contrasting beliefs between the 2 groups.


A qualitative study using in-depth interviews was conducted with 14 caregivers and 12 HCP. Thematic analysis was completed using the Braun and Clarke framework. Data saturation was reached and triangulated for 3 main themes.


The 3 main themes were: Understanding anorexia as part of the disease trajectory, physical impact of anorexia and emotional burden of anorexia.  Caregivers did not appreciate that anorexia is part of the palliative disease trajectory. Only the more experienced and palliative trained HCP were able to appreciate anorexia as part of disease trajectory. While anorexia had a negative physical impact on patients, it also had a high emotional impact on caregivers. Caregivers experienced helplessness, anxiety, depression and guilt. HCP were able to identify helplessness and anxiety in caregivers but not depression and guilt.

Discussion & Conclusion

There is poor understanding of anorexia in palliative care for caregivers and junior HCPs. There is high level of emotional burden on caregivers. While HCPs are able to manage anxiety and helplessness in caregivers, there is a need to identify depression and sense of guilt in caregivers. This will ensure that caregivers are supported emotionally to continue to care for patients at the end of their life.