Food and Nutrition Sciences

Volume 7, Issue 12 (October 2016)

ISSN Print: 2157-944X   ISSN Online: 2157-9458

Google-based Impact Factor: 0.97  Citations  h5-index & Ranking

Nutrition Screening and Referrals in Two Rural Australian Oncology Clinics

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DOI: 10.4236/fns.2016.712103    1,322 Downloads   1,956 Views   Citations


Malnutrition is common, and is a significant contributing factor to morbidity and mortality in the oncology setting. Previous research suggests that dietetic services in rural oncology clinics need to be well organized, timely and flexible with routine screening processes. In the absence of routine nutrition screening, it is hypothesized that oncology patients are only referred to dietetic services when malnutrition is overt or advanced. The aim of this study was to describe and compare dietetic services in two rural Australian oncology clinics and investigate nutrition screening and referral practices to determine if oncology patients at nutritional risk were appropriately referred. A retrospective file audit of medical and treatment records was conducted for a sample of oncology patients to determine the proportion of patients at risk of malnutrition by using the Malnutrition Screening Tool retrospectively. Dietetic treatment statistics and key stakeholders were consulted to compare dietetic service provision across the two sites. Seventy-eight percent of patients (n = 129) were retrospectively determined to be at nutritional risk during the study period, however, only 66% of these patients were referred to a dietitian. Dietetic treatment statistics varied across the two sites ranging from 26 to 62 treated patients, an average of 2.4 to 4.5 dietetic interventions per patient and an average difference in patient intervention time of 62 minutes during the 12-month study period. This study confirmed findings from previous research, highlighting that without routine nutrition screening in oncology, at least one third of patients at nutritional risk were failing to be identified and referred to dietetic services for appropriate treatment. Routine nutrition screening should be implemented to standardise and prioritise dietetic service provision, and oncology specific funding should be allocated to the dietetic service to ensure that staffing is adequate to provide a timely service.

Cite this paper

Bohringer, E. and Brown, L. (2016) Nutrition Screening and Referrals in Two Rural Australian Oncology Clinics. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 7, 1070-1081. doi: 10.4236/fns.2016.712103.

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