Malnutrition in hospital patients can have severe clinical consequences and is associated with worse patient outcomes. As most patients are reliant on hospital food to meet their requirements, it is important that hospital food meets nutritional standards and is well-perceived. Few studies have recently explored the perception of the hospital food experience in the UK; the aim of this study was to investigate the perception of the NHS hospital meals in the UK by previous inpatients.
Method. A cross sectional questionnaire analysis of 28 previous U.K NHS inpatients aged over 18 recruited via opportunistic, snowball sampling drawn from the researcher’s friends and family.
The rate of overall satisfaction with the hospital food experience was 57%. Taste was ranked the most important factor in both average rank and appearance in the top 3 ranks, followed by nutritional content and temperature. 39% of participants agreed that hospital food is appetizing, and 42% agreed that hospital food is nutritious. Those who agreed that hospital food is nutritious were more likely to express overall satisfaction with the hospital food experience (p=0.023).
The results suggest that there remains significant room for improvement with patient satisfaction. Those who had been in hospital within the last three years had the most positive perceptions of hospital food, suggesting perceptions may be improving since the government introduction of hospital food standards in 2014. Nutritional content is highly valued by patients but only half perceive hospital food to be nutritious, suggesting improving patient’s
understanding of the nutritional value of hospital food of this may be an area of focus for improvement efforts.||en_US