Evidence-based analysis of protected mealtime policies on patient nutrition and care

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Malnutrition in hospitalized patients remains a significant problem. Protected Mealtimes is a complex, inter-professional ward-based intervention that was first introduced in the United Kingdom to address this issue. Now implemented internationally, the approach still remains in key policy documents including the National Health Service Essence of Care. This review aims to synthesize the nutrition, satisfaction and quality of life patient/resident outcomes that arise from the implementation of Protected Mealtimes in hospitals and residential aged care facilities and to consider fidelity issues that have been reported in previous research. A defined search strategy was implemented in seven databases to identify full text papers of original research that evaluated Protected Mealtimes implementation. After screening, data were extracted from eight studies (7 quantitative and 1 qualitative study) that were conducted in hospitals. There was no research identified from the aged care sector. There were few positive outcomes that resulted from Protected Mealtimes implemen-tation, many fidelity issues with the intervention were reported. It is apparent that Protected Mealtimes provide few, if any, benefits for hospitalized patients. It is a complex, multi-pronged initiative that has limited fidelity and limited outcomes. As such, we recommend that disinvestment by policy makers for hospitals should be considered, with the implementation of other evidence based mealtime initiatives. We provide no recommendation for disinvestment in the aged care sector, since the approach has not been evaluated against any of the eligible outcomes of this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-721
Number of pages9
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Disinvestment
  • Hospitals
  • Policy
  • Protected Mealtimes

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