Is the topic of malnutrition in older adults addressed in the European nursing curricula? A MaNuEL study

Doris Eglseer*, Ruud J. G. Halfens, Sandra Schussler, Marjolein Visser, Dorothee Volkert, Christa Lohrmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The lack of sufficient knowledge of health care professionals is one main barrier to implementing adequate nutritional interventions. Until now, it is not known to which extent European nurses are exposed to the topic of malnutrition in older adults during their education. Objective: To determine whether formal nursing degree programs in Europe address the topic of nutrition and, specifically, malnutrition in older adults. Design: A cross-sectional study was conducted using an online-survey. Participants: The online-survey link was e-mailed to 926 nursing education institutions in 31 European countries. Methods: This study was conducted as part of the Healthy Diet for Healthy Life Joint Programming Initiative, Malnutrition in the Elderly Knowledge Hub (MaNuEL) project. Descriptive analyses were performed using SPSS. Associations were calculated using the chi-square tests and Fisher's exact test. Results: The response rate of our survey was 14.2% (131 institutions). Of these, 113 (86.3%) addressed the topic of nutrition in their educational programs, and 73.7% addressed the topic of malnutrition in older adults. Malnutrition screening (70.8%), causes (67.2%) and consequences (68.7%) of malnutrition were frequently addressed topics of content. Topics that were rarely addressed included nutritional support in intensive care units (ICU) (23.7%), cooperation in multidisciplinary nutrition teams (28.2%), dietary counselling (32.1%) and the responsibilities of various professions in nutritional support (35.1%). The topic of malnutrition in older adults is taught by nurses in 52.7%, by dietitians in 23.7%, by nutritional scientists in 18.3%, and physicians in 19.8% of the institutions. Conclusions: The topics of malnutrition and malnutrition screening are currently not included in the content of nutrition courses taught at nearly 30% of the European educational institutions for nurses. Nursing educators urgently need to improve curriculum content with respect to the topic of malnutrition in older adults to enable nurses to provide high-quality nutritional care of older persons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-18
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Nursing education
  • Nursing education research
  • Nutrition
  • Malnutrition
  • Older adults
  • RISK
  • CALL


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