Background: Although nutrition parameters have been linked to quality of life (QOL), few studies have determined if nutritional risk predicts changes in QOL over time in older adults.
Methods: 367 frail older adults were recruited from 23 service agencies in the community. Baseline interview included nutritional risk as measured by SCREEN (Seniors in the Community: Risk Evaluation for Eating and Nutrition), as well as a wide variety of covariates. Participants were contacted every 3 months for 18 months to determine QOL as measured by three questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a general whole-life satisfaction question, and a general change in QOL question. "Good physical health days" from the BRFSS was the focus of bivariate and multivariate analyses, adjusting for influential covariates.
Results: Seniors with high nutritional risk had fewer good physical health days and whole-life satisfaction at each follow-up point compared with those at low risk. In general, participants reported decreases in general QOL from baseline, with those in the moderate nutritional risk category most likely to report this change. Nutritional risk predicted change in good physical health days over time. Other important covariates include: gender, number of health conditions, perceived health, and age.
Conclusions: Nutritional risk is an independent predictor of change in health-related QOL. The results also indicate a relationship between nutrition and the more holistic view of QOL. Evaluation studies of interventions for older adults need to include QOL measures as potential outcomes to further demonstrate the benefits of good nutrition.