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Systematic review with meta-analysis
Mealtime assistance may increase the energy and protein intake of hospitalised older patients
  1. Helen C Roberts,
  2. Fiona FA Rossiter
  1. Academic Geriatric Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Helen Roberts, Academic Geriatric Medicine, University of Southampton, Mailpoint 807, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Shirley, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; H.C.Roberts{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • This study demonstrates an increase in energy and protein intake among older in-patients with mealtime assistance.

  • Further well-conducted studies are needed to establish the cost-effectiveness of mealtime assistance.

  • Volunteers spent more time with patients at mealtimes than nurses, were positively perceived, and could be trained and employed more widely.


Malnutrition is common among older patients in hospital in many countries and associated with poor healthcare outcomes and increased costs. Factors such as acute illness are recognised but a lack of mealtime support is important and time-pressured nurses often struggle to provide sufficient help. Mealtime assistants can place food near to patients, open packets and cut up food, as well as help transfer food …

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