Background & Aims: In patients with malnutrition there is an increased long-term risk for mortality beyond the preciding hospital stay. We investigated the effects of postdischarge nutritional support in the outpatient setting on all-cause mortality in the populaton of malnourished medical patients in a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE, from inception to December 2021, January 2022. Randomized-controlled trials investigating nutritional support in medical patients following hospital discharge vs. control group (usual care, placebo and no nutritional support) were included. Data were independently extracted by two authors and were pooled using random effects model. Our primary outcome was all cause-mortality up to 12-months (end of intervention) of hospital discharge.
Results: We included 14 randomized-controlled trials with a total of 2438 participants and mostly moderate trial quality. Compared to the control group, patients receiving outpatient nutritional support had lower mortality (13 trials, odds ratio [OR] 0.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.48 to 0.84, p = 0.001, I2 = 1%). Nutritional support was also associated with a significant increase in the mean daily intake of energy (568 kcal, 95% CI 24 to 1,113, p = 0.04), proteins (24 g, 95% CI 7 to 41), p = 0.005) and body weight (1.1 kg, 95% CI 0.6 to 1.7), p < 0.001). No differences were found on hospital readmissions and handgrip strength.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials with mostly moderate trial quality suggests that nutritional support in the outpatient setting significantly increases nutritional intake as well as body weight, and importantly improves survival. Further large-scale and high-quality intervention trials are needed to confirm these findings.