Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mehta, Sudha

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Human and Family Resources


Psychotherapy patients--Nutrition; Dietitians


The purpose of this study was to investigate the nutritional care needs of hospitalized psychiatric patients and to outline the role of dietitians in this service. A questionnaire was sent out to the dietitians who were members of the West Suburban Dietetic Association and on-staff psychiatrists to determine what nutritional services were being offered and what needed to be offered. Nutritional status of all 29 patients in the psychiatric unit of Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Illinois, was determined using routine nutritional screening parameters and seven-day food records to assess nutrient intake patterns of these patients. Data from nutritional screening were compared to that of 23 other patients in the medical unit of the hospital. No significant differences were found between the nutritional screening parameters for these two groups of patients. In the psychiatric group, 50 per cent of the patients were obese as compared to 26 per cent of the control group. However, no weight reduction diets were prescribed for the psychiatric patients. Furthermore, among those with a pre-existing weight problem, 45 per cent of the patients continued to gain weight. Three patients followed a weight reduction diet on their own initiative. Evaluation of the food records of the psychiatric unit patients revealed that only 21 per cent of the patients had good eating habits or food selections, while 79 per cent of the subjects had nutritional deficiencies of some nutrients. Thirty-five per cent of the psychiatric subjects experienced a significant weight gain while hospitalized. Thirty-seven per cent of the subjects experienced a weight loss, but this can also be due to an attempt to lose weight intentionally (62 per cent were already over their Ideal Body Weight [IBW]) as was indicated by the patients who lost weight. Forty-five per cent of those subjects who gained weight already had a pre-existing weight problem. Obesity is an important risk factor for chronic health conditions. The psychiatric patients have a much longer average length of stay than other hospitalized patients. What better time than now for nutrition education? The role of the dietitian in the psychiatric units is being ignored because there is no model in psychiatric units per se to compare to. Sixty per cent of the dietitians surveyed rated the amount of time involved in the psychiatric unit as adequate and 40 per cent disagreed, indicating that improved nutritional care is necessary. Eighty per cent of the psychiatrists surveyed responded that nutritional intervention by a dietitian is important in the psychiatric patients' overall care.


Includes bibliographies.


74 pages




Northern Illinois University

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