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Patient, family and carer experiences of nutritional screening: a systematic review

Bullock, Alex; Greenley, S. L.; Patterson, M. J.; McKenzie, G. A. G.; Johnson, M. J.


Alex Bullock

G. A. G. McKenzie


Background: Despite recommendations for nutritional risk screening of all inpatients, outpatients and care home residents, as well as work to assess clinician's experiences and the validity of tools, little attention has been paid to the experiences of patients undergoing nutritional screening. This review aims to synthesise systematically the current evidence regarding nutritional risk screening with respect to the experiences and views of patients, their families and carers. Methods: A systematic search was performed in MEDLINE, Embase, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science and British Nursing Database (inception – July 2019); with screening terms related to malnutrition, screening tools and experience. Titles, abstracts and full-text papers were independently reviewed by two reviewers and then quality-appraised. Qualitative papers and quantitative surveys were included. A narrative review of surveys and a thematic framework synthesis of interviews were used to identify themes. Results: Nine studies, including five qualitative interview papers, were included. Qualitative and quantitative study results were combined using a matrix chart to allow comparison. Surveyed participants reported processes of nutritional screening as acceptable. Three key themes emerged from qualitative data: (i) experience of nutritional screening; (ii) misunderstanding of malnutrition: of causes, role of screening and poor self-perception of risk; and (iii) barriers to and opportunities for change. Conclusions: Although the screening process is acceptable, patients’ misunderstanding and poor knowledge regarding causes and consequences of malnutrition result in reduced risk perception and disbelief or disregard of nutritional screening results. Findings should inform policy and clinical practice, as well as highlight the known paucity of data regarding the effectiveness of screening on clinical outcomes.


Bullock, A., Greenley, S. L., Patterson, M. J., McKenzie, G. A. G., & Johnson, M. J. (2021). Patient, family and carer experiences of nutritional screening: a systematic review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 34(3), 595-603.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 13, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 14, 2020
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Print ISSN 0952-3871
Electronic ISSN 1365-277X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 3
Pages 595-603
Keywords Malnutrition; Nutritional screening; Patient experience; Qualitative; Quantitative; Systematic review
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (166 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Dietetic Association. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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