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Patient Position, Timely Help Improve Inpatient Meal Intake

40 percent of inpatients eat less than half of their meals in the hospital

FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Timely mealtime assistance and patient positioning during the meal are tied to meal intake among hospital patients, according to a study published online March 21 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Adrienne Young, Ph.D., from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues observed 601 meals over two weeks across four acute inpatient hospital wards (oncology, internal medicine, orthopedic, and vascular surgical). Observations included patient positioning, mealtime assistance, interruptions, and meal intake (visual estimate of plate waste). Good intake was prospectively defined as ≥75 percent the of meal.

The researchers found that 40 percent of patients ate half or less of their meal, with 10 percent eating none of the meal provided. Compared to lying in bed, sitting up for the meal was associated with good intake. Good intake was also associated with timely mealtime assistance (within 10 minutes), compared with delayed or no assistance. Intake was not affected by mealtime interruptions.

“To improve intake of older inpatients, mealtime programs should focus on ‘assisted mealtimes’ rather than only Protected Mealtimes,” the authors write.

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