Vanderkroft, D and Collins, C and Fitzgerald, MA and Lewis, S and Neve, M and Capra, S, Minimising undernutrition in the older patient, International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 5, (2) pp. 110-181. ISSN 1744-1595 (2007) [Refereed Article]
Background: Malnutrition among elderly hospitalised patients is widespread and has been shown to lead to adverse health outcomes. The effectiveness of interventions to minimise undernutrition in elderly inpatients is not
Objectives: To identify the best available practices, in the hospital setting, that minimise undernutrition or the risk of undernutrition, in the acute care patient especially for the older patient. The review will assesses the
effectiveness of a range of interventions designed to promote adequate nutritional intake in the acute care setting, with the aim of determining what practices minimise malnutrition in the elderly inpatients.
Search strategy: English language articles from 1980 onwards were sought using Medline, Premedline, Cinahl, Austrom-Australasian Medical Index and AustHealth, Embase and Science Citations Index. Selection criteria For inclusion the study had to include an intervention aiming to minimise undernutrition in hospitalised elderly patients aged 65 years or older. All study designs were included.
Data collection and analysis: Two independent reviewers assessed the eligibility of each study for inclusion into the review, critically appraised the study quality and extracted data using standardised tools. For each outcome
measure results were tabulated by intervention type and discussed in a narrative summary. Results from randomised controlled trials were pooled in meta-analyses where appropriate.
Main results: Twenty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 4021 participants. The focus of 15 interventions was the supplying of oral supplements to the participants, six focused on enteral nutrition therapy,
four interventions made changes to the foods provided as part of the hospital diet, one included the services of an additional staff member and three incorporated the implementation of evidence-based guidelines. Ten metaanalyses
were conducted from which the main findings were: significant improvements in weight status and arm muscle circumferences with an oral supplement intervention, P < 0.05.
Reviewers conclusions: The findings of the review support the use of oral supplements to minimise undernutrition in elderly inpatients. The results also emphasise the need for more high-quality research using appropriate outcome measures in the area of minimisation of undernutrition, particularly interventions that make alterations to the hospital diet and address support for feeding patients at the ward level.
Key words: aged, inpatient, intervention study, malnutrition, meta-analysis, systematic review.