Strategies to ensure continuity of nutritional care in patients with COVID-19 infection on discharge from hospital: A rapid review

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2022 Feb;47:106-116. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.11.020. Epub 2021 Nov 19.


Background & aims: The risk of malnutrition in people with COVID-19 is high; prevalence is reported as 37% in general medical inpatients, 53% in elderly inpatients and 67% in ICU. Thus, nutrition is a crucial element of assessment and treatment. This rapid review aimed to evaluate what evidence is available to inform evidence-based decision making on the nutritional care of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 infection.

Methods: Cochrane Rapid Reviews guidance was followed; the protocol was registered (CRD42020208448). Studies were selected that included patients with COVID-19, pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome and acute respiratory failure, in hospital or the community, and which examined nutritional support. All types of studies were eligible for inclusion except non-systematic reviews, commentaries, editorials and single case studies. Six electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, CINAHL and MedRxiv.

Results: Twenty-six articles on COVID-19 were retrieved, including 11 observational studies, five guidelines and 10 opinion articles. Seven further articles on pneumonia included three RCTs, one unblinded trial, three observational studies, and one systematic review on rehabilitation post-ICU admission for respiratory illness. The evidence from these articles is presented narratively and used to guide the nutritional and dietetic care process.

Conclusions: Older patients with COVID-19 infection are at risk of malnutrition and addressing this may be important in recovery. The use of nutritional management strategies applicable to other acute conditions are recommended. However, traditional screening and implementation techniques need to be modified to ensure infection control measures can be maintained. The most effective nutritional interventions require further research and more detailed guidance on nutritional management post-discharge to support long-term recovery is needed.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dietetics; Guidelines; Malnutrition; Nutritional care; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Support
  • Patient Discharge
  • SARS-CoV-2