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Do recommendations for institutional food service result in better food service? A study of compliance in Danish hospitals and nursing homes from 1995 to 2002–2003



Since 1995, significant efforts by authorities and researchers have been directed towards addressing the nutritional problems in Danish hospitals and nursing homes.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the increased focus on nutritional problems in patients and nursing home residents has resulted in measurable progress.


A questionnaire-based study was carried out among foodservice managers in Danish hospitals (n=96) and nursing homes (n=898) in 1995 and 2002/3 (n=90) and (n=682), respectively. The study used compliance with selected issues in the official Danish recommendations for institutional food service as an indicator for progress. The issues included: using nutrient calculated recipes/menus, offering menu choice options, using feedback routines on acceptability of menus, maintaining nutritional steering committees, employing food and nutrition contact persons, employing official recommendations and offering choice between three different menu energy levels.


Hospitals had a higher compliance compared to nursing homes. In 1995, this was the case for all questions asked and differences were statistically significant. Also in 2002/3, hospitals had a higher compliance, except in the case of established feedback routines. Differences were statistically significant. The results indicate that nutritional care is higher on the agenda in hospital, than in nursing homes. However, very little progress can be seen in compliance when results are analysed over the 8-year period. The only progress for nursing homes was that more homes had implemented feedback routines on acceptability of food service in 2002/3 than in 1995. The difference was statistically significant. For hospitals, however, no progress was found between 1995 and 2002/3.


The attempts to improve the nutritional status of hospital patients and nursing home residents seem to have failed. Still, the initiatives taken to improve the situation seem relevant. Especially the nursing homes might benefit from advantage of these experiences.

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Correspondence to B E Mikkelsen.

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Guarantor: BE Mikkelsen.

Contributors: BEM and AL co-developed the first questionnaire. AL and AMB developed the second questionnaire based on the first questionnaire and computed the data. AMB wrote the first draft and all authors co-refined it into a manuscript and BEM did the final editing.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

The appendix shows the identical parts of the hospital and nursing homes questionnaires in the 1995 and the 2002/2003 study.

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Mikkelsen, B., Beck, A. & Lassen, A. Do recommendations for institutional food service result in better food service? A study of compliance in Danish hospitals and nursing homes from 1995 to 2002–2003. Eur J Clin Nutr 61, 129–134 (2007).

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  • undernutrition
  • patients
  • nursing home residents
  • questionnaire

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