Using malnutrition and food insecurity screening to identify broader health-related social needs amongst older adults receiving emergency department care in the Southeastern United States: A cross-sectional study
Health Soc Care Community
Unmet health‐related social needs are common amongst older US adults and impact both quality of life and health outcomes. One of the ways that unmet health‐related social needs impact health is through malnutrition, an imbalance in a person's intake of energy and/or nutrients. Lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food is a specific health‐related social need that can be assessed rapidly and, when unmet, is a direct risk factor for malnutrition and may be indicative of a broader range of unmet health‐related social needs. We conducted a cross‐sectional study to characterise malnutrition and food insecurity amongst older adults receiving emergency department (ED) care using brief, validated measures and to assess the burden of a broader range of health‐related social needs amongst these patients. Patients were asked about their need for and willingness to receive a range of social services. The study was conducted in an academic ED serving a racially and socioeconomically diverse population in the Southeastern United States. A convenience sample of noncritically ill adults aged 60 years and older was approached between November 2018 and April 2019. Study patients (n = 127) were predominantly non‐Hispanic white (67%), community dwelling (91%) and urban residents (66%) with 28% screening positive for malnutrition risk, 16% for food insecurity and 5% for both. Of those at risk for malnutrition, 25 (69%) reported ≥2 unmet health‐related social needs and 14 (38%) were receptive to social services. Amongst food insecure patients, 18 (90%) reported additional unmet health‐related social needs and 13 (65%) were receptive to receiving social services. In conclusion, a brief set of questions can identify subgroups of older ED patients who are food insecure or at risk for malnutrition. Individuals who screen positive for food insecurity have a high burden of unmet health‐related social needs.
Aylward AF, Engelberg Anderson J, Morris A, et al. Using malnutrition and food insecurity screening to identify broader health-related social needs amongst older adults receiving emergency department care in the Southeastern United States: A cross-sectional study. Health Soc Care Community. 2021 Apr 6. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13367. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33825280.