Objective: For the early detection and treatment of malnourished hospital patients no valid screening instrument for the Dutch language exists. Calculation of percentage weight loss and body mass index (BMI) by the nurse at admission to the hospital appeared to be not feasible. Therefore, the short, nutritional assessment questionnaire (SNAQ), was developed.
Research, design and methods: Two hundred and ninety one patients on the mixed internal and surgery/oncology wards of the VU University medical center were screened on nutritional status and classified as well nourished (<5% weight loss in the last 6 months and BMI>18.5), moderately malnourished (5-10% weight loss in the last 6 months and BMI>18.5) or severely malnourished (>10% weight loss in the last 6 months or >5% in the last month or BMI<18.5). All patients were asked 26 questions related to eating and drinking difficulties, defecation, condition and pain. Odds ratio, binary and multinomial logistic regression were used to determine the set of questions that best predicts the nutritional status. Based on the regression coefficient a score was composed to detect moderately (2 points) and severely (3 points) malnourished patients. The validity, the nurse-nurse reproducibility and nurse-dietitian reproducibility was tested in another but similar population of 297 patients.
Results: The questions 'Did you lose weight unintentionally?'. 'Did you experience a decreased appetite over the last month?' and 'Did you use supplemental drinks or tube feeding over the last month?' were most predictive of malnutrition. The instrument proved to be valid and reproducible.
Conclusion: SNAQ is an easy, short, valid and reproducible questionnaire for early detection of hospital malnutrition.