Artificial nutrition and hydration: The evolution of ethics, evidence, and policy

Howard Brody, Laura D. Hermer, Larry D. Scott, Loretta Grumbles, Julie E. Kutac, Susan D. McCammon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


Introduction: The debate over use of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) in terminal illness, including advanced dementia, remains contentious despite extensive ethical and empirical investigation. Methods: For this narrative review we undertook a focused, selective review of literature reflecting ethical analysis, empirical assessment of outcomes, legal responses, and thinking within the Roman Catholic religious tradition. Results: The history of the debate over the past 60 years results from a complex interplay of ethical concerns, a growing empirical database, legal changes, public opinion, and financial as well as institutional concerns. Discussions of ANH today are often conducted without any understanding of this historical context. Discussion: Patients' interests could be better protected through remedial action at both the individual and the policy levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1058
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011



  • artificial nutrition and hydration
  • ethics
  • health policy
  • palliative care
  • terminal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this

Brody, H., Hermer, L. D., Scott, L. D., Grumbles, L., Kutac, J. E., & McCammon, S. D. (2011). Artificial nutrition and hydration: The evolution of ethics, evidence, and policy. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(9), 1053-1058.