Feeding infants on high flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy: Exploration of speech-language pathologists’ decision-making processes

Rebecca Wade, Kirsty Harrison, Celia Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are currently no clear protocols to inform whether or not to orally feed premature infants receiving high flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy (HFNC). There is also a paucity of literature describing how speech-language pathologists (SLPs) decide when and how to feed and infant on HFNC, in the absence of clear guidelines. A qualitative research study was therefore conducted to explore the views and experiences of nine SLP participants about the decision making processes undertaken around feeding infants on HFNC. Participants worked in UK level 3 or level 2 neonatal units. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and analysed thematically (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994). Five themes and fifteen subthemes were identified. Themes were: (1) the role of the SLP, (2) factors to be mindful of when considering oral feeding, (3) pre feeding, (4) feeding definitions, and (5) setting dependency. Subthemes included the infants overall presentation, the volume of oral intake and decision-making culture and practice within a multidisciplinary team. Speech-language pathologists consider a wide range of clinical factors when introducing oral feeding for an infant on HFNC. Judgments made about introducing feeding opportunities appeared to be most aligned with the infant’s needs and safety, rather than the level of oxygen support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
Journal Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2018

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