Objective: To identify malnutrition assessment methods in cancer patients and assess their content validity based on internationally accepted definitions for malnutrition.
Study design and setting: Systematic review of studies in cancer patients that operationalized malnutrition as a variable, published since 1998. Eleven key concepts, within the three domains reflected by the malnutrition definitions acknowledged by European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN): A: nutrient balance; B: changes in body shape, body area and body composition; and C: function, were used to classify content validity of methods to assess malnutrition. Content validity indices (M-CVIA-C) were calculated per assessment method. Acceptable content validity was defined as M-CVIA-C ≥ 0.80.
Results: Thirty-seven assessment methods were identified in the 160 included articles. Mini Nutritional Assessment (M-CVIA-C = 0.72), Scored Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (M-CVIA-C = 0.61), and Subjective Global Assessment (M-CVIA-C = 0.53) scored highest M-CVIA-C.
Conclusion: A large number of malnutrition assessment methods are used in cancer research. Content validity of these methods varies widely. None of these assessment methods has acceptable content validity, when compared against a construct based on ESPEN and ASPEN definitions of malnutrition.