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A review of the evidence for the impact of improving nutritional care on nutritional and clinical outcomes and cost

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Abstract Background: 

The association between malnutrition and poor clinical outcome is well-established, yet most research has focussed on the role of artificial nutritional support in its management. More recently, emphasis has been placed on the provision of adequate nutritional care, including nutritional screening and the routine provision of food and drink. The aim of this literature review is to establish the evidence for the efficacy of interventions that might result in improvements in nutritional and clinical outcomes and costs. Methods: 

A structured literature review was conducted investigating the role of nutritional care interventions in adults, and their effects on nutritional and clinical outcomes and costs, in all healthcare settings. Ten databases were searched electronically using keywords relating to nutritional care, patient outcomes and healthcare costs. High quality trials were included where available. Results: 

Two hundred and ninety-seven papers were identified and reviewed. Of these, only two randomised, controlled trials and six other trials were identified that addressed the major issues. A further 99 addressed some aspects of the provision of nutritional care, although very few formally evaluated nutritional or clinical outcomes and costs. Conclusions: 

This review reveals a serious lack of evidence to support interventions designed to improve nutritional care, in particular with reference to their effects on nutritional and clinical outcomes and costs. The review suggests that screening alone may be insufficient to achieve beneficial effects and thus more research is required to determine the most cost-effective interventions in each part of the nutritional care pathway, in a variety of healthcare settings and across all age ranges, to impact upon nutritional and clinical outcomes.
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Keywords: costs; nutritional care; nutritional intervention; outcomes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK 2: Nutritional Sciences Division, King’s College London, London, UK 3: Department of Economics, City University, Northampton Square, London, UK

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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