Objectives: To examine associations between nutrition screening checklists and the health of older women.
Design: Cross-sectional postal survey including measures of health and health service utilisation, as well as the Australian Nutrition Screening Initiative (ANSI), adapted from the Nutrition Screening Initiative (NSI). Setting: Australia, 1996. Subjects: In total, 12 939 women aged 70-75 years randomly selected as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.
Results: Responses to individual items in the ANSI checklist, and ANSI and NSI scores, were associated with measures of health and health service utilisation. Women with high ANSI and NSI scores had poorer physical and mental health, higher health care utilisation and were less likely to be in the acceptable weight range. The performance of an unweighted score (TSI) was also examined and showed similar results. Whereas ANSI classified 30% of the women as 'high-risk', only 13% and 12% were classified as 'high-risk' by the NSI and TSI, respectively. However, for identifying women with body mass index outside the acceptable range, sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive values for all of these checklists were less than 60%.
Conclusions: Higher scores on both the ANSI and NSI are associated with poorer health. The simpler unweighted method of scoring the ANSI (TSI) showed better discrimination for the identification of 'at risk' women than the weighted ANSI method. The predictive value of individual items and the checklist scores need to be examined longitudinally.