Research Article| Volume 53, ISSUE 5, P410-417, May 2021

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A Qualitative Study Exploring Hospital Food Waste From the Patient Perspective

  • Judi Porter
    Address for correspondence: Judi Porter, PhD, FDAA, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia
    Allied Health, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia

    Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Nutrition, Dietetics & Food, Monash University, Notting Hill, Victoria, Australia
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  • Jorja Collins
    Allied Health, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Nutrition, Dietetics & Food, Monash University, Notting Hill, Victoria, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
Published:January 29, 2021DOI:



      To study the perceptions, beliefs, and expectations of patients related to food waste during their hospital stay.


      A qualitative study using semistructured interviews and thematic analysis of transcripts.


      Four hospital wards across 3 hospitals in 1 large health care network in Melbourne, Australia.


      Forty inpatients, 10 each from oncology, maternity, general medicine, and subacute wards.


      A coding framework was developed by researchers; this framework was tested then applied across all interview transcripts. Codes were grouped and summarized to identify and analyze patterns of data.


      Historical experiences influenced participant perspectives on food waste; cost was the primary motivator to limit food waste at home. The following contributors to hospital food waste were identified: patient interest in food/appetite, food quality and quantity, and the foodservice model. Three overarching strategies to address hospital food waste emerged: modify the foodservice system to decrease waste, adopt multimethod food waste management strategies, and reduce and manage nonfood waste. Contamination was identified as a barrier to waste management. Participants reported that the aggregate amount, management, and implications of hospital food waste were invisible to them.

      Conclusions and Implications

      The inclusion of service users in both future studies and the practice of food sustainability is encouraged. Multiple approaches (system modification, multimethod food waste management strategies, and reduction of nonfood waste) could be adopted in practice to reduce hospital-related food waste.

      Key Words

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