Individualised Dietary Counselling for Nutritionally At-Risk Older Patients Following Discharge From Acute Hospital to Home: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Journal of  Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016 Apr; 29(2):196-208. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12307. Epub 2015 Mar 18.
Munk, T., Tolstrup, U., Beck, A. M., Holst, M., Rasmussen, H. H., Hovhannisyan, K., & Thomsen, T.


Background: Many older patients are undernourished after hospitalisation. Undernutrition impacts negatively on physical function and the ability of older patients to perform activities of daily living at home after discharge from acute hospital. The present study aimed to evaluate the evidence for an effect of individualised dietary counselling following discharge from acute hospital to home on physical function, and, second, on readmissions, mortality, nutritional status, nutritional intake and quality of life (QoL), in nutritionally at-risk older patients.

Methods: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials was conducted. The overall quality of the evidence was assessed according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system (GRADE) criteria.

Results: Four randomised controlled trials (n = 729) were included. Overall, the evidence was of moderate quality. Dietitians provided counselling in all studies. Meta-analyses showed a significant increase in energy intake [mean difference (MD) = 1.10 MJ day-1, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.66-1.54, P < 0.001], protein intake (MD = 10.13 g day-1, 95% CI = 5.14-15.13, P < 0.001) and body weight (BW) (MD = 1.01 kg, 95% CI = 0.08-1.95, P = 0.03). Meta-analyses revealed no significant effect on physical function assessed using hand grip strength, and similarly on mortality. Narrative summation of effects on physical function using other instruments revealed inconsistent effects. Meta-analyses were not conducted on QoL and readmissions as a result of a lack of data.

Conclusions: Individualised dietary counselling by dietitians following discharge from acute hospital to home improved BW, as well as energy and protein intake, in older nutritionally at-risk patients, although without clearly improving physical function. The effect of this strategy on physical function and other relevant clinical outcomes warrants further investigation.

Information NutriBib

Reference work for leading, current and selected literature in the field of clinical nutrition

Publications on clinical nutrition have grown steadily in recent years and the scientific evidence has been improved by numerous observational as well as intervention studies. Various umbrella organisations, such as the Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (GESKES), the German Society for Nutritional Medicine (DGEM) or the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) publish guidelines on nutrition in various clinical situations at regular intervals. Thus, a large amount of literature is available for evidence-based nutritional medicine.

The NutriBib aims to filter out authoritative publications in the various fields of nutritional medicine and thus to provide an overview of the abundance of literature. A large number of experienced nutrition experts contributed to the selection of relevant sources and allow a broadly based selection. Nevertheless, the literature selection cannot be considered exhaustive. Specific literature can be found by entering search words (using the magnifying glass at the top right) or by searching the table of contents.

Is important literature still missing? We would be very pleased to hear from you:

List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism