Background & aims: Nutrition screening tools (NST) identify individuals who are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished and who may benefit from nutritional support. The aims of this study were to design, pilot and evaluate a NST based on four nutritional parameters (weight, height, recent unintentional weight loss and appetite) recommended by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition as the minimum required to identify patients with nutritional problems.
Methods: A dietitian assessed the nutritional status of 100 patients admitted to the general medical wards. Results from the study were used to design a NST. The concurrent validity of the screening tool was then assessed, by comparing it with a nutritional assessment by an experienced dietitian in 100 patients admitted to acute medical and elderly care wards. The inter-rater reliability of the screening tool was also assessed using three nurses and 26 acute medical patients.
Results: All four nutritional parameters were required to identify all at-risk patients. There was good agreement between the screening tool and the dietitian's assessment (kappa = 0.717) and inter-rater reliability was reasonable (mean kappa = 0.66).
Conclusion: The screening tool was valid and reliable in identifying medical patients at risk of malnutrition and was quick and simple to use.