How to Try This: The Mini Nutritional Assessment

DiMaria-Ghalili, Rose Ann PhD, RN, CNSN; Guenter, Peggi A. PhD, RN, CNSN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000308962.37976.c9

Older adults are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, which often goes undetected and increases the risks of illness and death. The Joint Commission has required U.S. hospitals to provide nutrition screening to all patients within 24 hours of admission, but that doesn't cover patients in other settings, nor is there a standardized assessment tool for finding malnutrition in older adults. The Mini Nutritional Assessment is an effective, easily administered tool designed to identify older adults who have or are at risk for developing malnutrition. It consists of 18 questions and can be completed in about 15 minutes. A short form, containing the first six questions, can be used for screening. For a free online video demonstrating the use of this tool, go to

In Brief

Malnutrition in older adults often goes undetected—one study found that 50% to 80% were at risk for malnourishment or malnourished. This assessment tool can be used in 15 minutes, and a shorter form is available for screening.

Author Information

Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili is a 2007–2009 John A. Hartford Foundation–Atlantic Philanthropies Claire M. Fagin postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Peggi A. Guenter is the program director for clinical practice at the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, Silver Spring, MD. The authors of this article have no other significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.

Contact author: Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili,

How to Try This is a three-year project funded by a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University's College of Nursing in collaboration with AJN. This initiative promotes the Hartford Institute's geriatric assessment tools, Try This: Best Practices in Nursing Care to Older Adults: The series will include articles and corresponding videos, all of which will be available for free online at Nancy A. Stotts, EdD, RN, FAAN (, and Sherry A. Greenberg, MSN, APRN, BC, GNP (, are coeditors of the print series. The articles and videos are to be used for educational purposes only.

Routine use of a Try This tool may require formal review and approval by your employer.

This tool can identify malnutrition in older adults before changes in biochemistry or weight are evident.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.