Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 19, Issue 9, pp 1289–1296 | Cite as

Paediatric oncology patient preference for oral nutritional supplements in a clinical setting

  • Jennifer Cohen
  • Kate Rosen
  • Ken K. Russell
  • Claire E. Wakefield
  • Belinda Goodenough
Original Article



Oral nutrition supplements are commonly used to increase the nutrient intake of children who are undergoing treatment for cancer. However, little research has been conducted systematically examining preferences for oral supplements in this population. This study aims to address a gap in the literature by examining taste preferences of oral nutrition supplements routinely recommended for children undergoing treatment for cancer.


Twenty-one children undergoing treatment for cancer and 38 healthy control subjects participated in an acute double-blinded feeding trial. A variety of energy drinks, available both commercially and in the hospital, were sampled. Patients rated the taste of the drinks on a 10-cm coloured analogue scale.


A commercially-based drink (Moove™) rated the highest in the blinded and branded tests for the treatment (mean rating out of 10, 6.44 ± 2.69 and 7.26 ± 2.33, respectively) and control groups (mean rating, 7.61 ± 1.91 and 7.70 ± 2.32, respectively). Taste ratings were significantly higher for commercially available supplements over the hospital-prepared supplements, (p = 0.041), with no main effect for tasting condition (i.e. blinded versus branded, p = 0.902). There was a statistically significant trend such that ratings, when the brand that was known decreased for hospital supplements, while ratings for commercially available supplements increased (p = 0.014).


Fresh milk-based supplements were the preferred type of oral nutrition supplement in a cohort of paediatric oncology patients. The data also suggest that commercially available products are more likely to be accepted than hospital-prepared supplements. This pilot study supports the need for further research in the area of oral nutrition supplements for paediatric oncology patients as a way of determining a reliable way to estimate preferences and therefore maximise compliance. Results from this research could be also used as the basis for designing research to study the effects of flavour fatigue and long-term compliance with oral nutrition supplements in this population.


Paediatric Cancer Nutrition Oral supplements Compliance Preference 



There was no funding given for support of this study, though all products were donated by the companies. There was no other support given by the companies involved in this study, and they were approached by the researchers for their products to be used, based on products used previously at this site. Dr Wakefield is supported by a Clinical Research (Australia) Post Doctoral Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (ID 510421).

JC was responsible for the design, ethics submission and partial write-up of the manuscript. KR was responsible for the data collection, some statistical analysis and partial write-up of the manuscript. KR was responsible for the majority of the statistical analysis of the data. CW was responsible for partial write-up of the manuscript. BG was responsible for the design of the study, as well as partial write-up of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Cohen
    • 1
  • Kate Rosen
    • 1
  • Ken K. Russell
    • 2
  • Claire E. Wakefield
    • 3
    • 4
  • Belinda Goodenough
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition & DieteticsSydney Children’s HospitalRandwickAustralia
  2. 2.School of Mathematics & Applied StatisticsUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Children’s Cancer and Blood DisordersSydney Children’s HospitalRandwickAustralia
  4. 4.School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.School of Psychology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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