Conference Proceedings | J Oral Health Dent. 2018;1(S2):A013 | Open Access

Finger Foods for Older Adults in Hospital

Heelan M1,2,3

1University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust, Southampton, England
2University of Southampton, Southampton, England
3Medirest, Uxbridge, England



Purpose: Identify and evaluate the evidence available to demonstrate whether a finger-food menu will positively influence older adults in institutionalized settings.
Background: Under nutrition, particularly prevalent in older adults, is commonly associated with a negative impact on clinical, social and economic factors. There is limited evidence supporting effective interventions to prevent under nutrition. Finger-foods, (foods eaten without cutlery), are recommended to support older patients to increase feeding independence, dignity and control of mealtimes and enhance wellbeing.
Methods: A systematic review of empirical research studies was undertaken. Searches in the electronic databases MEDLINE, CINHL, EMBASE, PSYCH info, AMED, Cochrane and Web of science were conducted in June 2017. A combination of key words and adapted subject headings for each database were used. Narrative synthesis will be used to summarize and explain findings.
Results: Preliminary results suggest there are limited studies evaluating the use of finger-foods in residential and particularly non-specialist, acute care settings. Largely, study designs are varied and limited in validity, with case control trials and small sample sizes. Studies suggest that inclusion of a finger-food menu for older adults and cognitively impaired patients has potential to increase nutritional intake, stabilize body weight, and increase feeding independence and wellbeing.
Conclusions: There is some evidence that finger-foods have the ability to positively affect patient outcomes. There is no research to describe the feasibility of a finger-food menu in a hospital setting or evaluate economic consequences. High quality randomized control trials are required to prove effectiveness.
Acknowledgements: Supervisors – Dr. Sue Green, University of Southampton; Dr. Helen Roberts, University of Southampton; Dr. Colin Barnes, Solent NHS Trust.