Stolz, D and Miller, M and Bannerman, Elaine and Whitehead, C and Crotty, M and Daniels, L A (2002) Nutrition screening and assessment of patients attending a multidisciplinary falls clinic. Nutrition & Dietetics, 59 (4). pp. 234-239. ISSN 1446-6368
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Objective: To describe the nutritional health and current nutritional management of a representative sample of patients attending an Australian falls clinic. Design: Descriptive study. Subjects: Ninety adults (65 years old and over) attending the Falls Clinic. Setting: Fall and Injury Risk Assessment Clinic, Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia. Main outcome measures: The Australian Nutrition Screening Initiative (ANSI) tool was administered. Measurements of height, weight, mid-upper arm circumference (MAC) and triceps skinfold thickness (TSF) were taken by a trained investigator on one occasion. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated for each participant. A BMI of less than 22 kg per m2 and greater than 30 kg per m2 were classified as underweight and overweight respectively. A BMI of less than 22 kg per m2 and MAC or TSF less than the fifteenth percentile were considered undernourished. Case notes were audited to determine the number of referrals to the dietetics department. Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the data. To identify significant differences between variables and genders, independent sample t-tests were used for continuous data and chi-square tests of significance for categorical data. A significance level of P < 0.05 was applied to all statistical tests. Results: According to the ANSI checklist 41 of 90 participants were assessed as 'high nutritional risk'. The most common ANSI risk factors were 'taking three or more different medications daily' (n = 65), 'eating alone most of the time' (n = 41), having a 'history of unintentional weight change' (n = 28), and having an 'illness or condition that affects dietary intake' (n = 26). Seventeen participants were considered overweight with a BMI > 30 kg/m2 and 11 were classified as undernourished with a BMI < 22 kg/m2 and a MAC or TSF less than the fifteenth percentile. One referral was made to the dietetics department at the Repatriation General Hospital. Conclusion or application: The results of this study have shown that a substantial number of older adults susceptible to falling are at risk of poor nutritional health and that there is limited nutritional management of this population. While weight and height are routinely collected in this falls clinic and the possibility to monitor weight is available, there is an opportunity to raise awareness of the nutritional health of these patients.
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