There is compelling evidence on the impact of diet as preventative medicine, and with rising health care costs healthcare organizations are attempting to identify interventions to improve patient health outcomes.
The purpose of this systematic scoping review was to characterize existing healthcare organization–based interventions to improve access to fruits and vegetables (F&V) for their patient populations. In addition, we aimed to review the impact of identified interventions on dietary intake and health outcomes.
Titles and abstracts were searched in PubMed® (MEDLINE®), Embase®, CINAHL®, and the Cochrane Library® from 1 January 1990 to 31 December 2019. To be selected for inclusion, original studies must have included a healthcare organization and have had a programmatic focus on increasing access to or providing fresh F&V to patients in an outpatient, naturalistic setting. The Effective Public Health Practice Project tool was used to assess study quality in 6 domains (selection bias, study design, confounders, blinding, data collection methods, and withdrawals and dropouts).
A total of 8876 abstracts were screened, yielding 44 manuscripts or abstracts from 27 programs. Six program models were identified: 1) a cash-back rebate program, 2) F&V voucher programs, 3) garden-based programs, 4) subsidized food box programs, 5) home-delivery meal programs, and 6) collaborative food pantry–clinical programs. Only 6 of 27 studies included a control group. The overall quality of the studies was weak due to participant selection bias and incomplete reporting on data collection tools, confounders, and dropouts. Given the heterogeneity of outcomes measured and weak study quality, conclusions regarding dietary and health-related outcomes were limited.
Healthcare-based initiatives to improve patient access to F&V are novel and have promise. However, future studies will need rigorous study designs and validated data collection tools, particularly related to dietary intake, to better determine the effect of these interventions on health-related outcomes.