BACKGROUND: An early return to normal intake and early mobilization enhances postoperative recovery. However, one out of six surgical patients is undernourished during hospitalization and approximately half of the patients eat 50% or less of the food provided to them. We assessed the use of newly introduced breakfast buffets in two wards for gastrointestinal and oncological surgery and determined the impact on postoperative protein and energy intake.
METHODS: A prospective pilot cohort study was conducted to assess the impact of the introduction of breakfast buffets in two surgical wards. Adult patients had the opportunity to choose between an attractive breakfast buffet and regular bedside breakfast service. Primary outcomes were protein and energy intake during breakfast. We asked patients to report the type of breakfast service and breakfast intake in a diary over a seven-day period. Prognostic factors were used during multivariable regression analysis.
RESULTS: A total of 77 patients were included. The median percentage of buffet use per patient during the seven-day study period was 50% (IQR 0-83). Mean protein intake was 14.7 g (SD 8.4) and mean energy intake 332.3 kcal (SD 156.9). Predictors for higher protein intake included the use of the breakfast buffet (β = 0.06, p = 0.01) and patient weight (β = 0.13, p = 0.01). Both use of the breakfast buffet (β = 1.00, p = 0.02) and Delirium Observation Scale scores (β = -246.29, p = 0.02) were related to higher energy intake.
CONCLUSION: Introduction of a breakfast buffet on a surgical ward was associated with higher protein and energy intake and it could be a promising approach to optimizing such intake in surgical patients. Large, prospective and preferably randomized studies should confirm these findings.