Malnutrition has become a prevalent condition, with European and international studies reporting rates of approximately 25â€“40% in hospitals. We set out to perform a multi-center cross-sectional study to assess malnutrition rates in Slovenian hospitals and to convert the findings into a mobile application suitable for use by nurses and staff at the bedside. In addition, we examined the association of the results of this mobile application with parameters for body composition measured by bioimpedance method, muscle strength, anthropometrics, and specific blood markers.
We selected the Nutritional Risk Screening 2002 (NRS-2002) method, the second version of the modified short-form of Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA-SF), and the diagnostic criteria for cachexia proposed by Evans (CDE) as evidence-based methods for estimating the risk of and prevalence of malnutrition or/and cachexia. The methods were converted into the Android mobile application named MalNut that was used in three Slovenian hospitals by nurses and dietitians.
We applied NRS-2002 and MNA-SF to screen for malnutrition risk and to assess malnutrition in 207 individuals aged 18 years and older, regardless of gender or reason for hospitalization during 1-week periods. Totally, 98% of these patients consider nutrition an important part of medical treatment care. NRS-2002 estimated the malnutrition risk to be 66.3%, which includes both patients to be at risk for malnutrition and patients that are truly malnourished. The malnutrition risk in the elderly (65+) estimated by MNA-SF was 39.6% and malnutrition 42.5%. When applying the CDE score in these two categories, 66.7% were identified as cachectic and 21.4% as pre-cachectic. In the patients assessed with the CDE score, malnutrition risk increased with higher extracellular water and decreased body mass index, hemoglobin, phase angle, and muscle strength. In all, 75% of patients assessed as high risk for malnutrition by NRS-2002, were identified as cachectic and 15.7% as pre-cachectic. In NRS-2002 assessed patients, this risk increased with higher C-reactive protein and lower phase angle.
The study showed that both malnutrition and cachexia are largely overlapping notions and are common in hospitalized adults in Slovenia. The MNA-SF and NRS-2002 tools showed that malnutrition risk was not significantly correlated with age, gender, serum albumin, but was correlated with lower phase angle, CRP, and muscle strength in elderly patients. The results have been used to develop further nutritional interventions in Slovenia.