A study of nutrition promotion in and consumer nutrition environments of hospitals

Courtney Paige Winston, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Dietary intake is a complex, health-related behavior, and although individual-level theoretical models explain some variation in dietary intake, comprehensive theoretical models such as the ecological framework describe the multiple levels which influence diet-related behaviors. Thus, the ecological framework is a preferred model for designing comprehensive nutrition interventions. While ecological-based nutrition interventions have been described, little work has focused on interventions in the hospital setting. Because hospitals are considered the hallmarks of health, it might seem that hospitals would regularly engage in worksite nutrition promotion; however, recent publications and other anecdotal evidence have indicated otherwise. The first paper of this dissertation systematically reviewed the scientific literature between 1996 and 2012 and identified 13 outcome evaluation trials for hospital-based worksite nutrition interventions. Of these 13 interventions, only one intervention targeted three of the four levels of the ecological framework and no intervention targeted all four levels. Only half of the interventions targeted the physical environment of hospitals, thus warranting more investigation into this specific level of the ecological framework in this setting. A critical type of nutrition-related physical environments is the consumer nutrition environment. Although other tools measure the consumer nutrition environments of stores and restaurants, no tool specifically measured the consumer nutrition environments of hospitals until the CDC developed the Healthy Hospital Environment Scan for Cafeterias, Vending Machines, and Gift Shops (HHES-CVG). The HHES-CVG, a tool which measures the consumer nutrition environments of hospital cafeterias, vending machines, and gifts shops, was released in November 2011, and in the second paper of this dissertation, the reliability of this tool was investigated. Two trained raters visited 39 hospitals across Southern California between February and May 2012, and based on analyses of the raters' findings, the HHES-CVG exhibited strong reliability metrics (inter-observer agreement between 74 and 100%, and an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.961 for the overall nutrition composite score). Because the HHES-CVG was found to be a reliable tool, the third paper of this dissertation presented HHES-CVG results from the 39 hospitals. Overall, hospitals only scored about one-fourth of the total possible points for the nutrition composite score, indicating that most facilities do not have acceptable consumer nutrition environments. Some of the best practices observed in cafeterias were significantly associated with having a large facility and with having a contracted foodservice operation, but overall nutrition composite score was not associated with any specific facility or operation type. The dissertation concluded that much work is needed in order to improve the consumer nutrition environments of hospitals. Practitioners and healthcare administrators should consider starting with ecological-based interventions addressing all levels including the physical environment.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Health education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Winston, Courtney Paige, "A study of nutrition promotion in and consumer nutrition environments of hospitals" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3552571.