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Nutrition screening in long-term care facilities : an evaluation of the methodological quality of available instruments
journal contributionposted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by M Miller, W Loh, C Watterson, A Fraser, Caryl NowsonCaryl Nowson
A variety of nutrition screening instruments have been developed and implemented for identifying the risk of undernutrition among community and hospitalized older adults. Despite the high prevalence of undernutrition amongst older adults in long-term care, few screening instruments have been developed or evaluated in this setting. This review aims to evaluate the validity, reproducibility and feasibility of nutrition screening instruments developed for use, or described as being used, with older adults in long-term care. Ten publications encompassing nine independent nutrition screening tools were identified using electronic databases and manual searches of reference lists. The Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form (MNA-SF) was the most widely evaluated nutrition screening instrument and met the requirements for a valid instrument (sensitivity and specificity >0.9) for use in the long-term care setting. Modified versions of the MNA for use in China and South Africa also demonstrated acceptable levels of sensitivity and specificity. Other nutrition screening instruments were found to have variable levels of sensitivity and specificity and while some demonstrated levels consistent with the MNA-SF, only two were evaluated across more than one study population, Body Mass Index (BMI)+weight loss and BMI+albumin. These same instruments reported the highest levels of inter-rater and test-retest reproducibility, although this was only tested in one other instrument (Chinese Nutrition Screen -modified MNA). In conclusion, it is evident from this review that further work in this area is needed. Based on validity, reproducibility and feasibility it appears that BMI+weight loss is the most suitable nutrition screening instrument for use in the long-term care setting at this time. MNA-SF is promising; however, there is currently no data for inter-rater or test-retest reproducibility in the long-term care setting.