Malnutrition and clinical outcomes in elderly patients from a Singapore acute hospital

Lim, Yen Peng (2010) Malnutrition and clinical outcomes in elderly patients from a Singapore acute hospital. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Older adults, especially those acutely ill, are vulnerable to developing malnutrition due to a range of risk factors. The high prevalence and extensive consequences of malnutrition in hospitalised older adults have been reported extensively. However, there are few well-designed longitudinal studies that report the independent relationship between malnutrition and clinical outcomes after adjustment for a wide range of covariates. Acutely ill older adults are exceptionally prone to nutritional decline during hospitalisation, but few reports have studied this change and impact on clinical outcomes. In the rapidly ageing Singapore population, all this evidence is lacking, and the characteristics associated with the risk of malnutrition are also not well-documented. Despite the evidence on malnutrition prevalence, it is often under-recognised and under-treated. It is therefore crucial that validated nutrition screening and assessment tools are used for early identification of malnutrition. Although many nutrition screening and assessment tools are available, there is no universally accepted method for defining malnutrition risk and nutritional status. Most existing tools have been validated amongst Caucasians using various approaches, but they are rarely reported in the Asian elderly and none has been validated in Singapore. Due to the multiethnicity, cultural, and language differences in Singapore older adults, the results from non-Asian validation studies may not be applicable. Therefore it is important to identify validated population and setting specific nutrition screening and assessment methods to accurately detect and diagnose malnutrition in Singapore. The aims of this study are therefore to: i) characterise hospitalised elderly in a Singapore acute hospital; ii) describe the extent and impact of admission malnutrition; iii) identify and evaluate suitable methods for nutritional screening and assessment; and iv) examine changes in nutritional status during admission and their impact on clinical outcomes. A total of 281 participants, with a mean (+SD) age of 81.3 (+7.6) years, were recruited from three geriatric wards in Tan Tock Seng Hospital over a period of eight months. They were predominantly Chinese (83%) and community-dwellers (97%). They were screened within 72 hours of admission by a single dietetic technician using four nutrition screening tools [Tan Tock Seng Hospital Nutrition Screening Tool (TTSH NST), Nutritional Risk Screening 2002 (NRS 2002), Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form (MNA-SF), and Short Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (SNAQ©)] that were administered in no particular order. The total scores were not computed during the screening process so that the dietetic technician was blinded to the results of all the tools. Nutritional status was assessed by a single dietitian, who was blinded to the screening results, using four malnutrition assessment methods [Subjective Global Assessment (SGA), Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), body mass index (BMI), and corrected arm muscle area (CAMA)]. The SGA rating was completed prior to computation of the total MNA score to minimise bias. Participants were reassessed for weight, arm anthropometry (mid-arm circumference, triceps skinfold thickness), and SGA rating at discharge from the ward. The nutritional assessment tools and indices were validated against clinical outcomes (length of stay (LOS) >11days, discharge to higher level care, 3-month readmission, 6-month mortality, and 6-month Modified Barthel Index) using multivariate logistic regression. The covariates included age, gender, race, dementia (defined using DSM IV criteria), depression (defined using a single question “Do you often feel sad or depressed?”), severity of illness (defined using a modified version of the Severity of Illness Index), comorbidities (defined using Charlson Comorbidity Index, number of prescribed drugs and admission functional status (measured using Modified Barthel Index; MBI). The nutrition screening tools were validated against the SGA, which was found to be the most appropriate nutritional assessment tool from this study (refer section 5.6) Prevalence of malnutrition on admission was 35% (defined by SGA), and it was significantly associated with characteristics such as swallowing impairment (malnourished vs well-nourished: 20% vs 5%), poor appetite (77% vs 24%), dementia (44% vs 28%), depression (34% vs 22%), and poor functional status (MBI 48.3+29.8 vs 65.1+25.4). The SGA had the highest completion rate (100%) and was predictive of the highest number of clinical outcomes: LOS >11days (OR 2.11, 95% CI [1.17- 3.83]), 3-month readmission (OR 1.90, 95% CI [1.05-3.42]) and 6-month mortality (OR 3.04, 95% CI [1.28-7.18]), independent of a comprehensive range of covariates including functional status, disease severity and cognitive function. SGA is therefore the most appropriate nutritional assessment tool for defining malnutrition. The TTSH NST was identified as the most suitable nutritional screening tool with the best diagnostic performance against the SGA (AUC 0.865, sensitivity 84%, specificity 79%). Overall, 44% of participants experienced weight loss during hospitalisation, and 27% had weight loss >1% per week over median LOS 9 days (range 2-50). Wellnourished (45%) and malnourished (43%) participants were equally prone to experiencing decline in nutritional status (defined by weight loss >1% per week). Those with reduced nutritional status were more likely to be discharged to higher level care (adjusted OR 2.46, 95% CI [1.27-4.70]). This study is the first to characterise malnourished hospitalised older adults in Singapore. It is also one of the very few studies to (a) evaluate the association of admission malnutrition with clinical outcomes in a multivariate model; (b) determine the change in their nutritional status during admission; and (c) evaluate the validity of nutritional screening and assessment tools amongst hospitalised older adults in an Asian population. Results clearly highlight that admission malnutrition and deterioration in nutritional status are prevalent and are associated with adverse clinical outcomes in hospitalised older adults. With older adults being vulnerable to risks and consequences of malnutrition, it is important that they are systematically screened so timely and appropriate intervention can be provided. The findings highlighted in this thesis provide an evidence base for, and confirm the validity of the current nutrition screening and assessment tools used among hospitalised older adults in Singapore. As the older adults may have developed malnutrition prior to hospital admission, or experienced clinically significant weight loss of >1% per week of hospitalisation, screening of the elderly should be initiated in the community and continuous nutritional monitoring should extend beyond hospitalisation.

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ID Code: 44143
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Daniels, Lynne & Ash, Susan
Keywords: acute care, body mass index (BMI), clinical outcomes, corrected arm muscle area (CAMA), covariates, dementia, depression, dietitian referral, discharge destination, elderly, functional status, geriatric, hospitalised, length of stay (LOS), malnutrition, mid-arm circumference (MAC), Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA-SF), Modified Barthel Index (MBI), modified texture diet, mortality, nutrition assessment, nutrition risk screening (NRS), nutrition screening, older adults, prevalence, readmission, Singapore, Short Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (SNAQ), Subjective Global Assessment (SGA), swallowing impairment, triceps skinfold thickness (TSF), undiagnosed malnutrition, validity, weight loss, >60 years
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Aug 2011 23:54
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:43

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