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The contribution of the dietitian and nutritionist to palliative medicine 

The contribution of the dietitian and nutritionist to palliative medicine
The contribution of the dietitian and nutritionist to palliative medicine

Rosemary Richardson

and Isobel Davidson

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date: 24 January 2022

Management of the nutritional consequences of disease and its treatment are now acknowledged as a key component of palliative care provision. Factors affecting the ability to eat and the consequent changes in body composition which occur with disease progression often initiate concern in patients and relatives alike. The role of the dietitian is to provide dietary counselling in partnership with the patient where realistic goal setting can be achieved. The evidence base for improvement in nutritional status is equivocal which may be expected in this heterogeneous population. However, achieving recommended energy intakes is viewed as achievable using this strategy but is resource intensive. Nutritional assessment allows for appropriate monitoring of sequential changes in nutritional status and should be the cornerstone of a dietitian’s role. Classifying a patient’s stage of cachexia appropriately may prove useful in identifying when dietetic interventions are likely to be of greatest benefit.

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