AIM: Nutritional screening may not always lead to intervention. The present study aimed to determine: (i) the rate of nutritional screening in hospitalised older adults; (ii) whether nutritional screening led to dietitian consultation and (iii) factors associated with malnutrition.
METHODS: In this prospective study of patients aged ≥70 years admitted to a Geriatric Evaluation and Management Unit (GEMU), malnutrition was screened for using the Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA-SF) and identified using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).
RESULTS: Of the 172 patients participating in the study, 53 (30.8%) patients were malnourished, and 84 (48.8%) were at risk of malnutrition. Mean (SD) age was 85.2 (6.4 years), with 131 patients (76.2%) female. Nutritional screening was performed for all patients; however, it was incomplete in 59 (34.3%) because of omission of the anthropometric measurement. Overall, 62 (36.0%) of the total number of patients were seen by the dietitian, which included 26 (49%) of malnourished patients, 27 (32%) of at-risk patients and 9 (26%) of the well-nourished patients. No patients lost >1% of body weight during GEMU stay. Malnourished patients were more likely to be frail, have poor appetite, depression, and have lower levels of: albumin, cognition, physical function, grip strength and quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: The full benefits of nutritional screening by MNA-SF may not be realised if it does not result in malnourished patients receiving a dietitian consultation. However, it is possible that enrichment of the foodservice with high protein/high-energy options minimised patient weight loss in the GEMU.