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Poster Display session 1

4294 - The Patient Voice: An Irish Survey of Nutrition Attitudes & Access to Dietetic Care Throughout the Cancer Journey


28 Sep 2019


Poster Display session 1


Supportive Care and Symptom Management

Tumour Site


Erin Stella Sullivan


Annals of Oncology (2019) 30 (suppl_5): v718-v746. 10.1093/annonc/mdz265


E.S. Sullivan1, N. Rice2, E. Kingston1, A. Kelly1, L.E. Daly1, J.V. Reynolds3, D.G. Power4, A.M. Ryan1

Author affiliations

  • 1 School Of Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, T12 K8AF - Cork/IE
  • 2 (irspen), Irish Society of Clinical Nutrition & Metabolism, Dublin/IE
  • 3 Department Of Surgery, St. James' Hospital, D2 - Dublin/IE
  • 4 Departments Of Medical Oncology, Cork & Mercy University Hospitals, Cork/IE


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Abstract 4294


The attitudes of cancer patients towards nutrition and nutrition care has never been captured in Ireland. An awareness of the nutritional needs and attitudes of cancer patients along with a review of their experiences would help inform service planning.


In September 2018, a national survey was conducted to examine patient attitudes towards nutrition and access to dietetic services during their cancer journey. Patients diagnosed or treated in Ireland since 2015 were asked to complete a 25-item survey (available online and at 20 hospitals across Ireland).


In total, 1085 valid responses were received (63% female, mean age 58 years). All major cancer groups were represented & 33% had metastatic disease. Overall, 45% reported suffering from a diet-related problem and 44% reported weight loss since diagnosis. Muscle loss was noted by 52%. Amongst weight losers, 42% were ‘unhappy/worried’ while 27% reported being ‘delighted/happy’. Although 80% are ‘always/usually’ weighed in clinic, just 43% reported that they are ‘always/usually’ asked about diet. Nutrition was rated ‘very/extremely’ important by 89% of respondents. Only 39% had received dietary advice from a dietitian and 74% rated this advice as ‘very/extremely’ helpful. Overall, 57% of those who did not see an RD said they would have liked more support with diet. While 58% reported trying general healthy eating as a result of their diagnosis, 38% and 32% admitted trying at least one alternative dietary strategy or avoiding a specific food due to their diagnosis, respectively.


While nutrition is highly important to Irish cancer patients, fewer than half surveyed had accessed a dietitian. Weight and muscle loss are common, but their significance is not always understood by patients. Almost half used alternative dietary strategies, highlighting the need to screen oncology patients for potentially restrictive diet or supplement use to guide appropriate referrals and education.

Clinical trial identification

Editorial acknowledgement

Legal entity responsible for the study

The authors.




All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

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