Background/objectives: Routine nutrition screening is recommended for all older patients admitted to
hospital however data on the prevalence of malnutrition in rehabilitation settings is sparse. This study assessed the nutritional status of older patients admitted to rehabilitation hospitals over a 5 year period and described the association between nutritional status and length of hospital stay (LOS) in this context. The usefulness of a recently revised version of the shortened MNA (MNA-SF) was also investigated. Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of patients aged 65 + y admitted to two rehabilitation hospitals in New South Wales, Australia between 1st March 2003 - 30th June 2004, and 11th January 2005 – 10th December 2008. Nutritional status was determined on admission by trained dieitians using the full MNA instrument and the MNA-SF. Information on diagnosis-related grouping and length of stay (LOS) was obtained. Results: Data was available for 2076 patients with a mean age of 80.6 (27.7) y. Thirty-three percent and 51.5 % of patients were classified as malnourished and at nutritional risk, respectively. Controlling for date of admission and diagnosis related grouping, LOS was higher in malnourished and at risk groups compared to their well nourished peers (P<0.001) by 18.5 and 12.4 days, respectively. MNA-SF demonstrated high sensitivity but relatively low specificity against the full MNA.
Conclusion: The majority of older patients in the rehabilitation setting are nutritionally compromised which adversely influences LOS. In order to encourage more widespread screening, the MNA-SF may be able to replace the full MNA.