Background & aims: The detection, prevention and treatment of undernutrition in hospitals is often poor. This study assesses the knowledge about undernutrition of staff in a UK teaching hospital.
Methods: Twenty nine doctors, 65 final year medical students, 45 nurses, 11 dietitians, and 11 pharmacists anonymously completed a questionnaire of 20 multiple choice questions. One of five possible answers was considered correct. Twelve questions were about adult nutritional assessment and requirements, five about oral/enteral nutrition and three about parenteral nutrition.
Results: Dietitians scored significantly more (median 16) than the other groups (doctors: seven, medical students: eight, nurses: seven and pharmacists: nine) (P < 0.0001). Medical students scored more than doctors (P < 0.001). Examples of areas in which knowledge could be improved are: 67% respondents thought the prevalence of hospital undernutrition to be less than 30%. While 91% of respondents correctly chose a well 70 kg man to need about 2000 kcal/day, only 23% knew that approximately the same amount was needed for a febrile post-operative patient. Sixteen percent knew antibiotic treatment to be the most common reason for enteral feeding-related diarrhoea.
Conclusions: Knowledge about the assessment and management of undernutrition among doctors, medical students, nurses and pharmacists was poor. This questionnaire provides a framework for teaching and auditing the effectiveness of an educational program.
Copyright 1999 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.