Objective: To estimate the effectiveness of oral nutritional support compared to placebo or usual care in improving clinical outcome in older (65 years+) medical and surgical patients after discharge from hospital. Outcome goals were: re-admissions, survival, nutritional and functional status, quality of life and morbidity.
Data sources: Three recent Cochrane reviews and an update of their literature search using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science. Search terms included randomized controlled trials; humans; age 65+ years; subset: dietary supplements.
Review methods: One reviewer assessed trials for inclusion, extracted data and assessed trial quality.
Results: Six trials were included (N = 716 randomly assigned participants). All trials used oral nutritional supplements. A positive effect on nutritional intake (energy) and/or nutritional status (weight) (in compliant participants) were observed in all trials. Two pooled analysis was based on a fixed-effects model. No significant effect were found on mortality (four randomized controlled trials with 532 participants, odds ratio 0.80 (95% confidence (CI) interval 0.46 to 1.39)) or re-admissions (four randomized controlled trials with 478 participants, odds ratio 1.07 (95% CI 0.71 to 1.61)).
Conclusion: Although the evidence is limited, we suggest that oral nutritional support may be considered for older malnourished medical and surgical patients after discharge from hospital.