Studies outlining the protective functions of shared family meals suggest that helping families experience successful meals is an important goal. Measuring the effectiveness of family mealtime interventions necessitates the ability to quantify both the frequency and context of shared mealtimes. This article introduces a new instrument, the Family Mealtime Q-Sort, describes its development, and presents preliminary data about its psychometric properties. Data from initial evaluation of the Family Mealtime Q-Sort using family mealtime videos (N = 51) demonstrate acceptable interrater reliability, promising validity, and the ability to compare family mealtimes to an independently derived, culturally appropriate standard. The results suggest that the Q-sort adequately measures important dimensions of a successful mealtime including a positive atmosphere, making use of the shared time to engage in meaningful conversation, and proceeding with a clear plan and minimal distractions. Further research on the tool is warranted.
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