The impact of using a malnutrition screening tool in a hospital setting: a mixed methods study

Doris Eglseer*, Daniela Schoberer, Ruud Halfens, Christa Lohrmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background/Objectives Malnutrition risk screening represents a crucial starting point for the successful management of malnourished patients. This study was conducted to (1) examine the effect of the use of a malnutrition screening tool on process indicators of nutritional care and (2) explore healthcare professionals' perceptions and opinions regarding this tool.

Methods A mixed methods design was used. A controlled pretest-posttest study was conducted to carry out quantitative analyses, and semi-structured, qualitative interviews were held. Quantitative data were analysed with descriptive statistics, Chi-squared tests, Student's t-tests and Kruskal-Wallis H tests, using SPSS 23. Qualitative data were analysed by performing a qualitative content analysis using MAXQDA 12. Two comparable hospitals participated in the study, representing one intervention group (IG) and one control group (CG). The Graz Malnutrition Screening Tool (GMS) was implemented and used in the IG for at least 1 month, while the CG received no intervention.

Results The use of the screening tool positively correlated with significant improvements in the process indicators of nutritional care after 1 month, in terms of the number of nutritional interventions and the frequency of documentation of the diagnosis and the patient's weight and height. The content of the interviews revealed that nearly all professionals involved perceived the overall screening process positively. Few barriers were identified.

Conclusions The results of this study show that the use of a screening tool has a positive, short-term impact on the hospital's process quality of nutritional care. Ongoing efforts are required to sustainably maintain these positive changes. During this process, positive attitudes, nomination of motivated 'opinion-leaders' and concerted management support are helpful facilitators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-292
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019



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