The effect of nutrition training for health care staff on learner and patient outcomes in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background: Nutrition training for health care staff has been prioritized internationally as a key means of tackling malnutrition; however, there is a lack of clear evidence to support its implementation. Systematic reviews in other fields of training for health care staff indicate that training strategies may have a beneficial impact on learner and patient outcomes.

Objectives: We assessed whether nutrition training for health care staff caring for nutritionally vulnerable adults resulted in improved learner and patient outcomes and evaluated the effectiveness of different training strategies.

Design: A systematic review of trials of nutrition training for health care staff was conducted. Six databases were searched with key terms relating to malnutrition and nutrition training. Studies were categorized according to cognitive (didactic teaching), behavioral (practical implementation of skills), and psychological (individualized or group feedback and reflection) training strategies. Where sufficient data were available, meta-analysis was performed according to study design and training strategy. All study designs were eligible. The risk of bias was evaluated in accordance with Cochrane guidance.

Results: Twenty-four studies met the eligibility criteria: 1 randomized controlled trial, 4 nonrandomized controlled trials, 3 quasi-experimental trials, 13 longitudinal pre-post trials, 2 qualitative studies, and 1 cross-sectional survey. Results from a number of low-quality studies suggest that nutrition training for health care staff may have a beneficial effect on staff nutrition knowledge, practice, and attitude as well as patient nutritional intake. There were insufficient data to determine whether any particular training strategy was more effective than the others.

Conclusions: In the absence of high-quality evidence, low-quality studies suggest that nutrition training for health care staff has some positive effects. However, further randomized controlled trials are required to confirm overall efficacy and to explore the impact of training strategies on learner and patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume106
Issue number1
Early online date24 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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