Six researchers and one librarian (Melissa L. Rethlefsen) at Mayo Clinic compared attendance at weekly lunchtime medical grand rounds both with and without free food (sandwich, fruit, beverage). The food was provided from unrestricted grants from pharmaceutical companies. Mean attendance increased 38 percent with food; the size of the population only increased 6 percent in the same time. They also asked a few questions. Respondents said they were more likely to attend rounds with food (31 percent much more likely, 40 percent slightly more likely; only 5 percent less likely). Interestingly, they also said that their attendance had not changed because of the food; but 53 percent said that if food was not there they would be less likely to attend.
I think this shows “scientifically” that food at events increases attendance. It’s nice to have the research agree with what we’ve known all along.
Segovis, Colin M., et al., If you feed they will come: A Prospective study of the effects of complimentary food on attendance and physician attitudes at medical grand rounds at an academic medical center, BMC Medical Education 7:22, 2007