ESPEN Guideline on Nutritional Support for Polymorbid Medical Inpatients

Clinical Nutrition. 2023 Sep;42(9):1545-1568. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2023.06.023. 
Wunderle, C., Gomes, F., Schuetz, P., Stumpf, F., Austin, P., Ballesteros-Pomar, M. D., Cederholm, T., Fletcher, J., Laviano, A., Norman, K., Poulia, K. A., Schneider, S. M., Stanga, Z., & Bischoff, S. C.


Disease-related malnutrition in polymorbid medical inpatients is a highly prevalent syndrome associated with significantly increased morbidity, disability, short- and long-term mortality, impaired recovery from illness, and cost of care.

As there are uncertainties in applying disease-specific guidelines to patients with multiple conditions, our aim was to provide evidence-based recommendations on nutritional support for the polymorbid patient population hospitalized in medical wards.

This update adheres to the standard operating procedures for ESPEN guidelines. We did a systematic literature search for 15 clinical questions in three different databases (Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library), as well as in secondary sources (e.g. published guidelines), until July 12th. Retrieved abstracts were screened to identify relevant studies that were used to develop recommendations (incl. SIGN grading), which was followed by submission to Delphi voting.

From a total of 3527 retrieved abstracts, 60 new relevant studies were analyzed and used to generate a guideline draft that proposed 32 recommendations (7x A, 11x B, 10x O and 4x GPP), which encompass different aspects of nutritional support including indication, route of feeding, energy and protein requirements, micronutrient requirements, disease-specific nutrients, timing, monitoring and procedure of intervention. The results of the first online voting showed a strong consensus (agreement of >90%) on 100% of the recommendations. Therefore, no final consensus conference was needed.

Recent high-quality trials have provided increasing evidence that nutritional support can reduce morbidity and other complications associated with malnutrition in polymorbid patients. The timely screening of patients for risk of malnutrition at hospital admission followed by individualized nutritional support interventions for at-risk patients should be part of routine clinical care and multimodal treatment in hospitals worldwide. Use of this updated guideline offers an evidence-based nutritional approach to the polymorbid medical inpatients and may improve their outcomes.

Overall Algorithm

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.

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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