Background: This article describes the characteristics of patients identified as malnourished using the Short Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (SNAQ) in terms of health status (quality of life, functional capacity, and body composition) and care complexity. We expected that by using the quick and easy SNAQ method of screening on malnutrition, inferences could be made about general health status and care complexity. This information can be used for optimal multi-disciplinary treatment of the malnourished patient. Methods: The research population consisted of a group of 588 patients admitted to internal medicine and surgery wards of the VU university medical center. Patients with a SNAQ score of at least 3 points were considered malnourished. The SNAQ score was compared to the health status, which was determined by serum albumin, hand grip strength, quality of life, body composition, and estimated care complexity. Results: At admission, 172 patients (29%) had a SNAQ score of at least 3 points. These patients had a significantly poorer quality of life, poorer physical functioning, a lower fat free mass index, and higher care complexity. Conclusion: These findings confirm our assumption that a considerable proportion of malnourished patients should be considered as complex patients and that malnutrition is an important aspect and indicator of overall health status of the patients. The SNAQ is a simple malnutrition screening tool, applicable in the current complex hospital situation, to identify these complex, malnourished patients. © 2006 European Federation of Internal Medicine.
- Care complexity