Development of a valid and reliable malnutrition screening tool for adult acute hospital patients

Nutrition. 1999 Jun;15(6):458-64. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(99)00084-2.


Nutrition screening identifies individuals who are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished and who may benefit from nutrition support. The aim of this study was to develop a simple, reliable and valid malnutrition screening tool that could be used at hospital admission to identify adult acute patients at risk of malnutrition. The sample population included 408 patients admitted to an Australian hospital, excluding pediatric, maternity, and psychiatric patients. The ability of various nutrition screening questions to predict subjective global assessment (SGA) were examined in contingency tables. The combination of nutrition screening questions with the highest sensitivity and specificity at predicting SGA was termed the malnutrition screening tool (MST), and consisted of two questions regarding appetite and recent unintentional weight loss. Subjects who were at risk of malnutrition according to the MST had significantly lower mean values for the objective nutrition parameters (except immunologic parameters) and longer length of stays than subjects who were not at risk of malnutrition. Therefore convergent and predictive validity of the MST was established. The interrater reliability of the malnutrition screening tool was high (93-97%). The MST is a simple, quick, valid, and reliable tool which can be used to identify patients at risk of malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Patient Admission*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires