An evaluation of three nutritional screening tools in a Portuguese oncology centre

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Abstract

Background

Because the choice of the most appropriate nutritional screening tool in cancer patients remains an important issue, the aim of the present study was to compare the screening value of three undernutrition screening tools in cancer patients.

Methods

In a probabilistic sample of 50% in-patients from an oncology hospital, the screening values of Malnutrition Screening Tool (MST) and Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) were calculated using the Nutritional Risk Screening 2002 (NRS-2002) as the reference method in identifying nutritionally-at-risk patients. Their ability to predict a high length-of-hospital stay (LOS), defined as ≥7 days, was assessed.

Results

A total of 130 patients were assessed. MUST identified the highest proportion of nutritionally-at-risk patients (43.8%), followed by 28.5% using NRS-2002 and 17.7% using MST. They all identified head and neck cancer patients as the most at risk of nutritional problems. The odds of having a longer LOS were higher for MUST estimates [odds ratio (OR) = 3.24, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.50–7.00] than for NRS-2002 (OR = 2.47, 95% CI = 1.05–5.80).

Conclusion

MUST had the highest agreement with NRS-2002 in hospitalized cancer patients and better identified patients at-risk for a longer LOS.

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