Hospitality is a social phenomenon expressing relationships between a host and a guest. This relationship can be seen in its most extreme form within a hospital setting, where the guest is a patient staying within an establishment where the core activity is not to provide the patient with food and drinks but to treat medical conditions. The aim of this study is therefore to explore how hospitality was performed by nursing staff and meal hosts in the dining room environments at four hospital wards and to explore the specific role of the room and its artefacts in facilitating or hindering acts of hospitality. In total, twenty non-participating observations were conducted across four wards within two Swedish hospitals. The dramaturgical theory proposed by Goffman was used as theoretical lens. Field notes were analysed in accordance with qualitative content analyses and yielded two overarching themes: (1) Hospitality and hospitableness through acts of caring and (2) The dining room environment’s potential to promote or hinder acts of hospitality. The findings suggest that the dining room environment facilitated timely service for the patients when the materiality within the room followed the principles of mise en place and included the constant presence of a staff member. This is seen as an important finding in relation to what needs to be addressed when planning hospital dining room environments and to the patients’ ability to consume a meal within a frame that acknowledges and assists the patients during their meals.
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