Post-discharge nutritional support in malnourished elderly individuals improves functional limitations

Floor Neelemaat, Judith E Bosmans, Abel Thijs, Jaap C Seidell, Marian A E van Bokhorst-de van der Schueren

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Older people are vulnerable to malnutrition, which leads to negative outcomes. This study evaluates the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation in malnourished elderly patients after hospital discharge.

METHODS: Hospital-admitted malnourished elderly patients (≥ 60 years) were randomized to receive either nutritional supplementation (energy and protein enriched diet, oral nutritional support, calcium-vitamin D supplement, telephone counseling by a dietitian) for 3 months postdischarge or usual care. Outcomes were functional limitations, physical performance, physical activities, body weight, fat-free mass, and handgrip strength. Measurements were performed at hospital admission (baseline) and at 3 months after discharge. Data were analyzed according to the intention-to-treat principle.

FINDINGS: A total of 210 patients were included, 105 in each group. Body weight increased more in the intervention group than in the control group; this was significant for the highest body weight category (mean difference 3.4 kg, 95% CI 0.2-6.6). Functional limitations decreased more (mean difference -0.5 (95% CI -1.0-0.1) in the intervention group than in the control group. When excluding patients who had already received nutritional support before the start of the study, this reached significance. No significant differences could be demonstrated for physical performance, physical activities, fat-free mass, or handgrip strength.

INTERPRETATION: Three months of oral nutritional support to malnourished elderly decreased functional limitations and increased body weight. It can be questioned if a follow-up of only 3 months was not too short to detect differences on physical performance and physical activities as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Malnutrition
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Support
  • Patient Discharge
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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