Mealtimes in a neurological ward: a phenomenological-hermeneutic study

Malene Beck, Bente Martinsen, Ingrid Poulsen, Regner Birkelund

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Aims and objectives: To examine the environment surrounding hospital meals for patients with neurological diseases. Background: A determined effort has been made to optimise the nutrition of hospitalised patients. However, the organisation of mealtimes and their relational and aesthetic aspects have not received similar attention. The result is that all other tasks continue with undiminished intensity when patient meals are served and eaten. Design: Based on a qualitative design, 25 mealtime situations were systematically observed. The observations varied by time of day, date, staff and patients present. Field notes were taken on the spot, and quotes were written directly. Methods: After transcription, the text materials were analysed and interpreted using a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach inspired by the philosopher Paul Ricouer. Three main themes were identified in the analysis: eating in a railway station, creating aesthetic mealtimes in an unaesthetic atmosphere and using familiar rituals in unfamiliar surroundings. Results: The inclusion of aesthetic elements and familiarity was found to play an important role in the desire of patients to eat. However, these elements were challenged by the design of the physical space and institutional structures. Conclusion: This study contributes to our understanding of the environment surrounding hospital meals for patients with neurological diseases. Based on this study, it can be concluded that meals were at a high risk of being served as a mindless task without the recognition that mealtimes are sensed with the whole body of the patient and not only by the mouth. Relevance to clinical practice: The importance of the mealtime environment must be acknowledged because it serves as a communicative aspect for neurological patients by letting them know what to expect from the coming hospital meal.

TidsskriftJournal of Clinical Nursing
Udgave nummer(11-12)
Sider (fra-til)1614-23
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2016
Udgivet eksterntJa

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