Many older adults living in their own homes are at nutrition risk which, left untreated, can lead to the state of malnutrition. To reduce the prevalence of malnutrition amongst community living older adults (CLOAs), risk factors should be identified and addressed early via malnutrition screening. The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers to malnutrition screening of CLOAs from the perspective of dietitians. Ninety-two dietitians working for government, non for profit and private organisations in Australia provided written comments to open-ended survey questions. Textual data were analysed using content analysis resulting in four key categories of organisational, staff, screening and CLOA factors. Insufficient time to screen and lack of knowledge by non-dietetic staff and CLOAs about malnutrition were identified as the strongest barriers. Organisational factors of screening policy and procedures and the provision of education and training emerged as the strongest enablers. The findings from this study can provide guidance to organisations and practitioners considering the implementation of routine malnutrition screening of CLOAs. Increased awareness about malnutrition and the associated outcomes may assist to reduce nutrition risk amongst CLOAs.
Australian Journal of Primary Health / Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.196-201