The use of oral nutritional supplements in an Irish community setting.
ABSTRACT The frequency of oral nutritional supplement (ONS) prescribing has been increasing steadily in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Available evidence indicates that health professionals in the community setting in the ROI have a poor level of knowledge about ONS. The objectives of the present study were to investigate ONS prescribing practices and to identify the types of patient who were prescribed these products.
Ten of 17 eligible general practitioners were recruited and asked to refer all patients (aged > 16 years) who were prescribed ONS during a 3-month period. Patients were interviewed by a community dietitian, using a questionnaire incorporating the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST). ONS prescriptions were judged either to fulfil or not to fulfil a set of criteria developed for ONS prescribing in the community.
The majority of patients were female (62/78). Their mean (SD) age was 79 (10.5) years. According to MUST criteria, 31 of 78 patients were at 'low risk', 18 of 78 were at 'medium risk' and 29 of 78 were at 'high risk' of malnutrition. Less than half of the patients (36/78) had a body mass index of < 20 kg m(-2). Only 21 of 78 patients reported having received dietary advice in addition to their ONS prescription. Almost one-third (31%) of ONS prescriptions did not fulfil the criteria. Social factors, such as living alone, and difficulties with cooking and shopping, influenced the need for ONS in almost 70% of cases.
ONS were prescribed in accordance with the prescribing criteria in the majority of cases; however, some patients who were prescribed ONS were not 'at risk' of malnutrition. Social circumstances played an important part in determining the need for ONS prescriptions.
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ABSTRACT: Healthcare professionals working in the community do not always prescribe oral nutritional supplements (ONS) according to best practice guidelines for the management of malnutrition. The present study aimed to determine the impact of a community dietetics intervention on ONS prescribing practices and expenditure 1 year later. The intervention involved general practitioners (GPs), practice nurses, nurses in local nursing homes and community nurses. It comprised an education programme together with the provision of a new community dietetics service. Changes in health care professionals' nutrition care practices were determined by examining community dietetics records. ONS prescribing volume and expenditure on ONS were assessed using data from the Primary Care Reimbursement Service of the Irish Health Service Executive. Seven out of 10 principal GPs participated in the nutrition education programme. One year later, screening for malnutrition risk was better, dietary advice was provided more often, referral to the community dietetics service improved and ONS were prescribed for a greater proportion of patients at 'high risk' of malnutrition than before (88% versus 37%; P < 0.001). There was a trend towards fewer patients being prescribed ONS (18% reduction; P = 0.074) and there was no significant change in expenditure on ONS by participating GPs (3% reduction; P = 0.499), despite a 28% increase nationally by GPs on ONS. The community dietetics intervention improved ONS prescribing practices by GPs and nurses, in accordance with best practice guidelines, without increasing expenditure on ONS during the year after intervention.Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 10/2011; 24(5):496-504. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01197.x · 2.07 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The present study aimed to establish the annual public expenditure arising from the health and social care of patients with diet-related malnutrition (DRM) in the Republic of Ireland. Costs were calculated by (i) estimating the prevalence of DRM in health-care settings derived from age-standardised comparisons between available Irish data and large-scale UK surveys and (ii) applying relevant costs from official sources to estimates of health-care utilisation by adults with DRM. No attempt has been made to estimate separately the costs of DRM and any associated disease, since each can be a cause or consequence of the other. The methods used are adapted from an evaluation of the cost of malnutrition in the UK by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (2009). Settings Hospitals, nursing homes, out-patient clinics, primary-care clinics and home care. All adult patients receiving hospital in-patient, out-patient or specified community health-care services. The annual public health and social care cost associated with adult malnourished patients in Ireland is estimated at over €1·4 billion, representing 10 % of the health-care budget. Most of this cost arises in acute hospital or residential care settings (i.e. 70 %), with nutritional support estimated to account for <3 % of spend. The cost associated with the care of patients with DRM is substantial and may rise as the proportion of older people within the population increases, a group at increased risk of DRM. Despite growing pressure on health-care budgets, little attention has been focused on the economic burden associated with DRM in Ireland or the potential for savings arising from improved detection and treatment of those at risk.Public Health Nutrition 02/2012; 15(10):1966-72. DOI:10.1017/S1368980011003624 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Healthcare professionals working in the community setting have limited knowledge of the evidence-based management of malnutrition. The present study aimed to evaluate a community dietetics intervention, which included an education programme for healthcare professionals in conjunction with the introduction of a community dietetics service for patients 'at risk' of malnutrition. Changes in nutritional knowledge and the reported management of malnourished patients were investigated and the acceptability of the intervention was explored. An education programme, incorporating 'Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST)' training, was implemented in eight of 10 eligible primary care practices (14 general practitioners and nine practice nurses attended), in seven private nursing homes (20 staff nurses attended) and two health centres (53 community nurses attended) in conjunction with a community dietetics service for patients at risk of malnutrition. Nutritional knowledge was assessed before, immediately after, and 6 months after the intervention using self-administered, multiple-choice questionnaires. Reported changes in practice and the acceptability of the education programme were considered using self-administered questionnaires 6 months after the intervention. A significant increase in nutritional knowledge 6 months after the intervention was observed (P < 0.001). The management of malnutrition was reported to be improved, with 69% (38/55) of healthcare professionals reporting to weigh patients 'more frequently', whereas 80% (43/54) reported giving dietary advice to prevent or treat malnutrition. Eighty-percent (44/55) of healthcare professionals stated that 'MUST' was an acceptable nutrition screening tool. An education programme supported by a community dietetics service for patients 'at risk' of malnutrition increased the nutritional knowledge and improved the reported management of malnourished patients in the community by healthcare professionals.Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 12/2010; 23(6):567-74. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2010.01111.x · 2.07 Impact Factor