vanderwee k., clays e., bocquaert i., verhaeghe s., lardennois m., gobert m. & defloor t. (2011) Malnutrition and nutritional care practices in hospital wards for older people. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(4), 736–746.
Aims. This paper is a report of a study conducted to gain a better insight into the current nutritional care practices in Belgian hospital wards for older people, and to study the association between these practices and the prevalence of malnutrition.
Background. In 1999, the Council of Europe assessed nutritional care practices and support in 12 European countries and showed them to be sparse and inconsistent. At the time of research, no studies had described the association between nutritional care practices and malnutrition prevalence in Belgium.
Methods. In 2007, a cross-sectional survey was carried out in a representative sample of Belgian hospital wards for older people. In total, 2094 patients from 140 wards for older people were included.
Results. The overall prevalence rate of malnutrition in wards for older people was 31·9%. Nutritional care practices such as nutritional screening and assessment, use of a standardized screening instrument and a nutritional protocol were suboptimal. Multilevel analysis revealed that ward characteristics explained for 9·1% whether a patient was malnourished or not. None of the registered nutritional care practices could explain a patient’s individual risk.
Conclusion. Malnutrition is a frequently occurring problem on hospital wards for older people. Increased consciousness among healthcare professionals and hospital policy makers of the importance of nutritional care will contribute to further improvement in care quality.