Nutrition screening is an initial procedure in which the risk of malnutrition is identified. The aims of this review were to identify malnutrition risk from nutrition screening studies that have used validated nutrition screening tools in community living older adults; and to identify types of nutrition interventions, pathways of care and patient outcomes following screening.
A systematic literature search was performed for the period from January 1994 until December 2013 using SCOPUS, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, PubMed and COCHRANE databases as well as a manual search. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were determined for the literature searches and the methodology followed the PRISMA guidelines.
Fifty-four articles were eligible to be included in the review and malnutrition risk varied from 0% to 83%. This large range was influenced by the different tools used and heterogeneity of study samples. Most of the studies were cross sectional and without a subsequent nutrition intervention component. Types of nutrition intervention that were identified included dietetics care, nutrition education, and referral to Meals on Wheels services and community services. These interventions helped to improve the’ nutritional status of older adults.
Timely nutrition screening of older adults living in the community, if followed up with appropriate intervention and monitoring improves the nutritional status of older adults. This indicates that nutrition intervention should be considered a priority following nutrition screening for malnourished and at risk older adults. Further evaluation of outcomes of nutrition screening and associated interventions, using structured pathways of care, is warranted.