Mapping the gaps: A scoping review of research on pediatric feeding disorder

Hayley Henrikson Estrem, Jinhee Park, Suzanne Thoyre, Cara McComish, Kelly McGlothen-Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background & aims: Pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) is defined as impaired oral intake that is not age-appropriate, and is associated with medical, nutritional, feeding skill, and/or psychosocial dysfunction. As PFD is prevalent and increasing, so are publications on the topic; however, the research literature is often disparate in terminology used and siloed by discipline. Greater understanding of the current research concerning PFD will help identify areas in need of further study. The purpose of this scoping review is to examine the extent, range, and nature of research activities concerning PFD and to identify gaps in the empirical literature. Methods: Three electronic databases (PubMed/Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO) were searched using terms related to pediatric feeding disorder, which include, but not limited to, “feeding disorder/problem/difficulty”, “avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)”, “dysphagia”, “selective/picky eating”, “problematic mealtime behaviors” or “food refusal”. The following limits were placed on the search: full text, humans, English, and age limit (up to 18 years old), and publication date (last 10 years). Covidence software was used to facilitate a systematic data management/analysis. Two people in the research team independently reviewed each result (screening titles and abstracts first, then moving to the full texts) to identify studies that met our inclusion/exclusion criteria and conflicts were resolved through a team discussion. Data were charted regarding disciplines of the authors, study purposes, study settings/locations, study methodologies, and study participants. Descriptive statistics and thematic analyses were used to summarize the characteristics of the studies. Results: The initial search resulted in 5354 articles after removing duplicates between the databases. With a final set of articles (n = 415), data charting was completed. The majority of studies were completed by authors from Psychology (n = 171) and Medicine (n = 123). The most studied aims were to examine attributes of feeding problems (n = 168) and/or factors associated with feeding problems (n = 183). Sample size median was 53. A total of 166 of the 415 studies examined the effect of an intervention, treatment, or program, but dose of the intervention was difficult or impossible to report across studies. Feeding was studied as an outcome in 400 out of the 415 studies. A closer accounting of the systematically developed parent-report tools revealed 50 distinct parent report tools used across the subset of studies utilizing parent report outcomes (n = 123). Conclusions: The results of this scoping review highlight the designs and methods used in research on PFD. This reveals critical gaps in knowledge generation and barriers to intervention replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
  • Eating problem
  • Feeding problem
  • Pediatric feeding disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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