Food “from the Outside” and Correct Nutrition for Outpatients

A Tur-Sinai, B Bisharat, S Zelber-Gagi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


It is a common custom to visit patients in hospital. Visitors often bring along outside food products, including some that may not be recommended for the patient. Even so, neither the Ministry of Health nor the hospitals have explicit guidelines in place as to what people can and cannot bring their inpatient friends or kin. The study deals with three main questions: What are the patterns of spending on outside food products for inpatients? What are the types of food products brought for inpatients? How medical professionals view the matter?This quantitative study uses three closed-structured-questionnaire surveys-among visitors, inpatients, and medical staff. Thematic analysis of the findings yields patterns of spending on outside food products for inpatients, the types of food products brought, awareness of the health implications of consuming these products, patterns of consumption among inpatients, and how medical professionals view the matter.There are five major findings: (a) Most expenditure on outside food for inpatients occurs in the first few days of hospitalization. (b) Most food brought to inpatients is not defined as healthy. (c) There is a gap between visitors’ awareness of the health implications of bringing food to inpatients and their actual conduct. (d) Most patients realize that the food brought to them is bad for their health but tend to eat it anyway. (e) Medical staff disapproves of bringing food to inpatients.Information on the extent of bringing food to inpatients, and the types and nature of what is brought, sheds light on the question of food security among inpatients, with emphasis on the motive behind the (in)correct nutrition. Information about the attitudes of patients, visitors, and medical staff toward the need to continue bringing food sheds light on questions of equality and social justice in inpatient care.Healthcare services should be more aware of assuring inpatients’ right to correct nutrition in the senses of reducing inpatients’ exposure to externalities that may impede their convalescence.Healthcare services should be more mindful of the advantages of using the egalitarian nutrition system that hospitals operate for all patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupplement_4
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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