Purpose of review
Malnutrition in the nursing home is increasingly recognized as a major international research priority, given the expanding geriatric populations, serious consequences, and challenges conducting research in nursing homes. This review examines the recent literature and suggests implications for research and practice.
Across the recent studies, approximately 20% of nursing home residents had some form of malnutrition. However, malnutrition definitions were variable and prevalence ranged from 1.5 to 66.5%. Depression, cognitive impairment, functional impairment, and swallowing difficulty were consistently associated with malnutrition. Mortality was the major consequence of malnutrition among nursing home residents, whereas higher BMIs had lower risks of mortality. Beneficial interventions to reduce malnutrition in the nursing home included dietary supplements, greater resident role in food choice, and staff training programs.
To truly tackle the issue of malnutrition in the nursing home setting, a consistent definition is needed. We strongly recommend that an expert consensus panel identify a standard set of measures to more accurately compare the prevalence across countries. Given the mortality consequences of malnutrition and the paucity of intervention studies, research on interventions for malnutrition in the nursing home needs to be a higher priority for facilities, researchers, and funding agencies.