Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Nutrition & Dietetics 72 (2015), pp 261–266.

doi 10.1111/1747-0080.12177


Aim: Little is known about inpatient probiotic and prebiotic consumption or beliefs, despite their increase in availability. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to assess inpatient knowledge, use and perceptions of probiotics and prebiotics.

Methods: All subjects were inpatients at two urban medical centers on general medical/surgical floors. Patients were randomly selected to complete a verbally administered questionnaire inquiring about probiotic and prebiotic knowledge, use and perceptions. Patient responses were recorded directly into Survey Monkey (Palo Alto, CA, USA) on a computer.

Results: Patients (n = 200) were 58% were women and 56% were Caucasian with a mean age of 56 years. More patients were familiar with the term “probiotic” (43%) compared with “prebiotic” (11%); however, only 20% and 7% could correctly define probiotics and prebiotics, respectively, from a list of responses. More patients were consuming probiotics (53%) than prebiotics (38%). The most common probiotic and prebiotic products consumed were yogurts (72%) and cereals/granola bars (55%), respectively. Patients believed probiotics and prebiotics most beneficial for “digestion or gut health”, but the most common reason to consume these products was “to taste or try” (36% and 43%, respectively). Overall, patients believed probiotics and prebiotics to be safe; however, they also believed that health claims could only somewhat be trusted.

Conclusions: This research found that many patients are consuming probiotic and prebiotic products despite limited awareness of the true meaning of these terms. As probiotic and prebiotic use is more common, it is important that clinicians are aware of increased use and provide patients with recommendations based on recent research.