Descriptive Study of Children's Nutritional Status and Identification of Community-Level Nursing Diagnoses in a School Community in Africa

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 21;17(17):6108. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176108.


Effectively responding to children's nutritional status and eating behaviors in Mozambique requires a community-based care approach grounded in sound nursing research that is evidence-based. The Community Assessment, Intervention, and Empowerment Model (MAIEC) is a nursing theoretical model that is based upon clinical decision-making for community health nurses using communities as a unit of care. We used the MAIEC to identify a community-based nursing diagnosis to address children's nutritional status and eating behaviors in Mozambique.

Objectives: (1) to conduct a descriptive study of children's nutritional status and eating behaviors in a school community in Mavalane, Mozambique, and (2) to identify a community-based nursing diagnosis using the MAIEC clinical decision-making matrix in the same school community.

Method: a cross-sectional, quantitative study was conducted to assess the nutritional status of children using anthropometric data, including brachial perimeter and the tricipital skinfold, and standard deviation for the relation of weight-height, in a sample of 227 children. To assess community management of the problem and identify a community-based nursing diagnosis, we surveyed 176 parents/guardians and 49 education professionals, using a questionnaire based on the MAIEC clinical decision matrix as a reference.

Results: malnutrition was identified in more than half of the children (51.3%). We also identified a community-based nursing diagnosis of impaired community management related to the promotion of child health and healthy eating evidenced by the lack of community leadership, participation, and processing among more than 70% of the community members (parents/guardians and education professionals).

Conclusion: a nursing diagnosis and diagnostic criteria for nutritional status and community management were identified. The need to intervene using a multidisciplinary public health approach is imperative, with the school community as the unit of care. In addition, reliable anthropometric data were identified as important criteria to complement the nursing diagnosis and guide future public health interventions.

Keywords: children’s health; community health nursing; community participation; nutritional surveillance; public health; public health nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Mozambique
  • Nursing Diagnosis*
  • Nutrition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Schools