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BACKGROUND: The post-hospital period may be a vulnerable time for elders recovering from acute illness. Few studies have examined nutrition outcomes of older people at nutrition risk after acute hospitalisation.
OBJECTIVES: This study aims to describe a) standard nutrition care received by recently discharged older medical patients, b) change in nutritional and functional status at six weeks post-discharge and c) clinical outcomes at twelve weeks post discharge.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Two metropolitan teaching hospitals in Brisbane, Australia.
PARTICIPANTS: Medical patients aged ≥65 years at risk of malnutrition (Malnutrition Screening Score ≥2) and discharged to independent living in the community.
MEASUREMENT: Nutritional status (Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), weight, lean body mass), functional status (grip strength, walk speed, activities of daily living) and health-related quality of life assessed on discharge and six weeks post-discharge. Inpatient and post-discharge nutrition intervention was recorded. Death and unplanned admissions were measured at 12 weeks.
RESULTS: Of the 42 consented participants, only 14% (n=6) received post-discharge dietitian review and 19% (n=8) received practical nutrition supports at home (meal delivery, shopping assistance) as part of standard care. While there was a small improvement in MNA (18.4±4.0 to 20.1±4.2, p=0.004) and walk speed (0.7±0.3 m/s to 0.9±0.3, p=0.004) at six weeks, there was no difference in mean weight, lean body mass, grip strength or activities of daily living. Five (15%) participants lost ≥5% body weight. By twelve weeks, 17 participants (46%) had at least one unplanned hospital admission and four (10%) had died.
CONCLUSIONS: Few patients at nutrition risk received nutrition-focussed care in the post-hospital period, and most did not improve nutritional or functional status at 6 weeks.