How does nutritional state change during a subacute admission? Findings and implications for practice

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Nutritional status influences patients’ clinical and functional outcomes. The aims were to identify changes in nutritional state during subacute care and associated participant characteristics.
A longitudinal study was undertaken with consecutive patients admitted to subacute care wards during a 3-month period. Participants were recruited under a waiver of consent to reflect the usual demographic. Change in classification (malnourished, at risk of malnutrition, well nourished) of the full Mini Nutritional Assessment (full MNA) between admission and discharge was the primary outcome. Weight (kg), mid-arm and calf circumference (cm) change were secondary outcomes. Hand grip strength (kg) and fat-free mass (kg) (assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis) were measured for a consenting subgroup.
Participants (n=248, 36.7% male) had a median age of 80 years and a length of stay of 17 days. On admission, 29.1% were classified as malnourished. By discharge, nutritional classification remained stable for 62.0% of participants (n=132), declined for 10.3% (n=22) and improved for 27.7% (n=59, including 52.5% malnourished on admission). Impaired cognition (odds ratio (OR)=0.169, P=0.002) and higher full MNA score at admission (OR=0.870, P=0.001) reduced odds of improvement in full MNA. There was no change in hand grip strength (n=46), but there was a decline in mean fat-free mass (−1.1 kg, 95% confidence interval: −0.1 to −2.2 kg, P=0.043, n=24).
Multidisciplinary care supports the nutritional state of most patients admitted to subacute care. Those with cognitive impairments or at risk of malnutrition were less likely to demonstrate improvement and may benefit from more intensive or tailored nutritional care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-612
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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