A systematic review has been conducted to assess the efficacy of nutritional support for improving clinical outcomes in hospitalised adult patients at risk of disease-related malnutrition. It was already known that roughly 30% of patients in Western European hospitals may be at risk of such malnutrition.
All of the 244 trials considered by the authors were judged to have a high risk of bias. Only low-quality evidence, at best, was discovered for the effects of nutrition support on: (i) reducing mortality and serious adverse events, (ii) achieving an increase in weight by the end of treatment in hospital, or (iii) improving health-related quality of life.
The reviewers recommend further research of higher quality to help address basic uncertainties about cause and effect, and to help determine the true scope for nutritional interventions in improving patient outcomes:
“ ..being malnourished may be associated with a severe underlying disease. In this case, specific interventions aimed at improving their nutritional status would not help, as it would not be the poor nutritional status, in itself, that caused the increased risk of death or of experiencing a serious harm”.
Feinberg, J. Nielsen, EE. [and] Korang, SK. [et al] (2017). Nutrition support in hospitalised adults at nutritional risk. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. May 19th 2017; 5: CD011598.
There is also an Executive Summary.