Model of nutritional care in older adults: Improving the identification and management of malnutrition using the Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form (MNA®-SF) in general practice
Australian Journal of Primary Health
Despite clinical guidelines recommending routine nutrition screening, malnutrition in community-living older adults remains under-recognised. This study evaluated the uptake of a model of nutritional care in older adults designed to improve the identification and management of malnutrition. A pragmatic quasi-experimental study was conducted in eight general practices in regional New South Wales between January 2017 and June 2018. Study participants comprised GPs and practice nurses who participated in a training event on the identification and management of malnutrition and patients (aged >65 years) attending the practices recruited to the study. Nutritional screening was conducted using the Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form. The specific objectives of the study were to: (1) evaluate the effects of the intervention on knowledge, attitudes and practices of staff related to malnutrition screening using questionnaires and in-depth interviews; and (2) identify patients' experiences and outcome measures following malnutrition screening through self-completed surveys. Across the eight practices, 11 healthcare professionals completed in-depth interviews. Post-training knowledge surveys (n = 25) identified that knowledge increased in 96% of staff (P < 0.001). Fifty-five older adults who were screened (two malnourished, 10 'at risk of malnutrition') reported an increased awareness of risk factors for malnutrition. This study provides proof-of-concept that a model of care that includes routine malnutrition screening and accompanying pathways for management is acceptable to general practice staff and has promising effects on patient outcomes. However, the low number of patients screened suggests that additional processes are required to improve feasibility (e.g. incorporation into Medicare-funded nurse-led consultations such as the 75+ Health Assessment).
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