Hospital food service interventions and their effect on nutritional outcomes of cancer patients

Ms Elizabeth Doyle1, Ms Natalie Simmance1, Ms Helen Wilding2, Ms Judi Porter3,4

1Nutrition Department, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia,

2Carl de Gruchy Library, St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia,

3Allied Health Research Office, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia,

4Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash University, Notting Hill, Australia


Aim:  Foodservice interventions are an integral part of nutrition care for patients with cancer.  This systematic review aimed to determine the effect of foodservice interventions across a range of nutritional outcomes and satisfaction of hospitalised and ambulatory adult patients with cancer.

Method:  The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016045772).  Six databases were searched with a defined search strategy focusing on the intervention and population; no date or language restrictions were applied.  Inclusion criteria were applied to the title and abstract, then review of full text papers.  Outcome data were combined narratively and, where possible, by meta-analysis using RevMan.  Methodological quality was evaluated using the Cochrane risk of bias tool.

Results:  Twelve studies testing the effect of foodservice interventions in cancer patients were included in this review.  Meta-analyses of energy and protein intake of four randomised control trials of oral nutrition support interventions were undertaken.  These trials demonstrated significantly greater energy (mean difference 1.54MJ/day; 95% CI 0.85-2.23MJ/day) and protein (mean difference 18.98g/day; 95% CI 11.58-26.39g/day) intake.  Positive effects on anthropometric and other nutritional outcomes were identified through the narrative synthesis of other included studies.

Significance of the findings to allied health: Our review identified that foodservice interventions can improve clinical outcomes of cancer patients, both in inpatient and ambulatory settings. Effective foodservice interventions for cancer patients remain under-researched, demonstrated by the few foodservice studies published as full text papers.  There is a clear opportunity for dietitians and foodservice staff to extend foodservice knowledge through trialling interventions in this clinical group.