Evidence-based practice guidelines recommend routine malnutritionscreening of community living elderly, yet little is known about screen-ing practice. Therefore, the aim of this observational study was toinvestigate malnutrition screening practice of Australian dietitiansworking in community settings. A cross-sectional online survey withboth closed and open-ended questions was adapted to investigatecurrent practice, and barriers and enablers to malnutrition screening. Atotal of 133 dietitians completed the survey, with open-ended responsesreceived from 92 of those individuals. The majority of data were ana-lysed descriptively, with content analysis of open-ended responses toestablish the key barriers and enablers. Malnutrition screening occurswithin most organisations (77%) and was highest within governmentorganisations. The majority (75%) reported a malnutrition screeningtool was used; the most common was the Malnutrition Screening Tool (n= 52) followed by the Mini Nutritional Assessment short-form (n = 27).Efusal for nutritional assessment after positive screening was reportedby 66% of survey respondents. Dietitians identiﬁed policy and proce-dures related to screening and the provision of training and education tostaff as the strongest enablers. Insufﬁcient time to screen and lack ofknowledge about malnutrition emerged as the strongest barriers.Overall screening practice is largely inconsistent and refusal for nutri-tional assessment after positive screening was common as reported by66% of survey respondents. This suggests a deeper understandingregarding malnutrition screening from the perspective of the elderly isneeded. Identifying and addressing disparities between practice andperception may ultimately reduce the prevalence of malnutrition riskamong community living elderly.
33rd Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference, Melbourne, Australia 19-21 May 2016
Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 73, Supplement 1, pp.19