Enteral nutrition (EN) is often delayed in critically ill patients despite strong evidence to support that early enteral nutrition feeding is beneficial in this population. Adverse outcomes in critically ill patients in which nutrition is delayed include a longer length of stay and time on the ventilator, and a higher incidence of pneumonia and hospital mortality. The purpose of this literature review was to evaluate the current evidence regarding trophic enteral feeds in mechanically ventilated adult patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)/acute lung injury (ALI) and associated clinical outcomes. A retrospective literature review was performed to identify articles published on the topic of trophic feeds in mechanically ventilated adult patients with ALI/ARDS, with a focus on associated clinical outcomes. The studies included in this literature review indicated that the dose and timing of enteral nutrition in critically ill patients with ARDS/ALI had an effect on clinical outcomes. It is possible that additional variables such as the level of organ dysfunction and varying definitions for trophic enteral nutrition also influenced clinical outcomes. The United States (U.S.) and Canadian guidelines for nutrition supportrecommend either trophic or full EN for patients with ARDS/ALI on the basis that these two feeding strategies have similar patient outcomes over the first week of hospitalization. After reviewing the literature, we conclude that caution is warranted when following this recommendation. Regressions suggest full calorie enteral nutrition administered early in the course of critical illness significantly increased the odds of mortality, whereas full calorie enteral nutrition administered later reduced the odds of mortality.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Peach, Brian


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date


Included in

Nursing Commons