Association of nutritional risk and adverse medical outcomes across different medical inpatient populations

Nutrition. Nov-Dec 2015;31(11-12):1385-93. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.06.007. Epub 2015 Jul 20.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of nutritional risk and its association with multiple adverse clinical outcomes in a large cohort of acutely ill medical inpatients from a Swiss tertiary care hospital.

Methods: We prospectively followed consecutive adult medical inpatients for 30 d. Multivariate regression models were used to investigate the association of the initial Nutritional Risk Score (NRS 2002) with mortality, impairment in activities of daily living (Barthel Index <95 points), hospital length of stay, hospital readmission rates, and quality of life (QoL; adapted from EQ5 D); all parameters were measured at 30 d.

Results: Of 3186 patients (mean age 71 y, 44.7% women), 887 (27.8%) were at risk for malnutrition with an NRS ≥3 points. We found strong associations (odds ratio/hazard ratio [OR/HR], 95% confidence interval [CI]) between nutritional risk and mortality (OR/HR, 7.82; 95% CI, 6.04-10.12), impaired Barthel Index (OR/HR, 2.56; 95% CI, 2.12-3.09), time to hospital discharge (OR/HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.43-0.52), hospital readmission (OR/HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.08-1.97), and all five dimensions of QoL measures. Associations remained significant after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and medical diagnoses. Results were robust in subgroup analysis with evidence of effect modification (P for interaction < 0.05) based on age and main diagnosis groups.

Conclusion: Nutritional risk is significant in acutely ill medical inpatients and is associated with increased medical resource use, adverse clinical outcomes, and impairments in functional ability and QoL. Randomized trials are needed to evaluate evidence-based preventive and treatment strategies focusing on nutritional factors to improve outcomes in these high-risk patients.

Keywords: Length of stay; Mortality; NRS; Nutritional risk screening; Prevalence; Readmission.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Acute Disease / mortality*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Readmission
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Tertiary Care Centers