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Gauging food and nutritional care quality in hospitals

Rosa Wanda Diez-Garcia1*, Anete Araújo de Sousa2, Rossana Pacheco da Costa Proença2, Vania Aparecida Leandro-Merhi3 and Edson Zangiacomi Martinez4

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Food Practices and Behavior – PrátiCA, Nutrition and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, Ribeirão Preto, SP 14049-900, Brazil

2 Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, Florianópolis, SC, 88040-900, Brazil

3 Faculty of Nutrition, PUC Campinas, Av. John Boyd Dunlop, s/n., Campinas, SP, 13060-904, Brazil

4 Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, Ribeirão Preto, SP, 14049-900, Brazil

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:66  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-66

Published: 6 September 2012



Food and nutritional care quality must be assessed and scored, so as to improve health institution efficacy. This study aimed to detect and compare actions related to food and nutritional care quality in public and private hospitals.


Investigation of the Hospital Food and Nutrition Service (HFNS) of 37 hospitals by means of structured interviews assessing two quality control corpora, namely nutritional care quality (NCQ) and hospital food service quality (FSQ). HFNS was also evaluated with respect to human resources per hospital bed and per produced meal.


Comparison between public and private institutions revealed that there was a statistically significant difference between the number of hospital beds per HFNS staff member (p = 0.02) and per dietitian (p < 0.01). The mean compliance with NCQ criteria in public and private institutions was 51.8% and 41.6%, respectively. The percentage of public and private health institutions in conformity with FSQ criteria was 42.4% and 49.1%, respectively. Most of the actions comprising each corpus, NCQ and FSQ, varied considerably between the two types of institution. NCQ was positively influenced by hospital type (general) and presence of a clinical dietitian. FSQ was affected by institution size: large and medium-sized hospitals were significantly better than small ones.


Food and nutritional care in hospital is still incipient, and actions concerning both nutritional care and food service take place on an irregular basis. It is clear that the design of food and nutritional care in hospital indicators is mandatory, and that guidelines for the development of actions as well as qualification and assessment of nutritional care are urgent.

Food care; Nutritional care; Public hospital; Private hospital