Nutritional care of the patient: nurses' knowledge and attitudes in an acute care setting


IngeKowanko Dr Research Education Unit, School of Nursing, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2001, Adelaide, 5001, Australia (e-mail: inge.kowanko@post.flinders.


• Concern is growing about the occurrence of malnutrition in hospitals throughout the developed world. Reduced involvement of nurses in patients' nutritional care may be one of the contributing factors.

• This study explored nurses' attitudes and knowledge about nutrition and food service in hospital.

• Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven nurses from the internal medical service of a large Australian acute care hospital.

• Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed that many nurses lacked the in-depth knowledge needed to give proper nutritional care to their patients.

• Although nurses considered nutritional care to be important many had difficulty in raising its priority above other nursing activities, as a result of time constraints and multitasking issues.

• Several problems relating to food service arrangements were also highlighted.

• The findings suggest a need to raise nurses' awareness of the importance of nutrition in patient outcome.

• This study provides information which will guide in-service nurse education programs about nutrition, and suggests strategies for practice and organizational change.