Malnutrition and associated factors in elderly hospital patients: A Belgian cross-sectional, multi-centre study

Nursing Science, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.
Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) (Impact Factor: 4.48). 08/2010; 29(4):469-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.12.013
Source: PubMed


In Belgium, general data on the prevalence of malnutrition are lacking. Prevalence rates are necessary to gain insight into the magnitude of malnutrition and to establish a nutrition policy that takes the limited health care resources into account. This study aimed to obtain insight into the prevalence of malnutrition in Belgian elderly hospital wards and to identify factors associated with the malnutrition prevalence.
A cross-sectional, multi-centre study in elderly wards of Belgian hospitals. The nutritional status was assessed using the Mini Nutritional Assessment. A standardised questionnaire was used to record demographic data and data on potential factors associated with malnutrition.
Out of 2329 elderly patients, 33% suffered from malnutrition. Almost 43% of the patients were at risk of malnutrition and 24% were well-nourished. Having swallowing difficulties, taste difficulties, and being transferred from a nursing home were strongly associated with being malnourished.
The malnutrition prevalence in Belgian elderly hospitals wards is similar to international figures. Elderly who have swallowing difficulties, taste difficulties, or coming from a nursing home may need adequate nutritional care. Given the negative impact of malnutrition on mortality and morbidity, an emphasis should be placed on an effective nutritional policy.

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    • "Malnutrition is a problem in health care settings all over the world [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]. Malnutrition has been defined as a condition in which an insufficient or disproportionate intake of energy, protein, and other nutrients adversely affects tissue/body form (shape, size, and composition) and function, and clinical outcomes [9]. "
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    • "In addition, age, gender, polypharmacy, the severity of illness, and the level of education were identified as factors influencing patients' malnutrition (Toppenberg & Uhrenfeldt, 2012). Malnutrition is a problem among older patients in Europe (Brantervik et al., 2005; Pirlich et al., 2006; Vanderwee et al., 2010). Polypharmacy, an additional challenge to older patients' well-being, identified in more severely ill patients as the intake of more than five different prescriptions per day (Pirlich et al., 2006), is commonly observed among geriatric patients (Stewart & Cooper, 1994). "
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    • "Elderly people with swallowing difficulties due to oral problems, such as absence of teeth, poor oral hygiene, and gum infections, have a decreased food intake and are vulnerable to malnutrition [23]. In addition, several studies found that along with functional changes, social changes in elderly people's lives (loss, changed family structure, and decreased income) may result in depression and reduced life satisfaction, increasing the risk of being malnourished [24]. "
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