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Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education


Background: The nutrition profile of palliative home care clients is unknown. This study describes this group and their nutrition issues and evaluates the performance of the interRAI nutrition Clinical Assessment Protocol (CAP).

Methods: This was a cross-sectional secondary analysis using Ontario interRAI Palliative Care (interRAI PC) Assessment data. The sample represents 74,963 unique Ontario home care clients assessed between 2011 and 2018. Frequencies and standardized differences (stdiffs) of nutrition characteristics were presented for cancer (n = 62,394) and noncancer (n = 12,569) diagnostic subgroups. Rates of triggering the nutrition CAP were presented by nutrition issue to evaluate its performance.

Results: Of this sample, 16.7% were ≥85 years of age, 52.6% had a prognosis between 6 weeks and 6 months, and 41.4% required assistance with eating. The prevalence was higher among those with nervous/mental/behavioral disorders (72.6%) compared with those with cancer (37.6%; stdiff = 0.75). However, most nutrition issues experienced were similar (stdiff < 0.20) across diagnostic groups. Of the entire sample, 21% triggered the nutrition CAP, indicating a need for further evaluation or intervention. Yet, 73.4% of those who experienced dry mouth, 71.8% of those who required assistance with eating, and 68.4% of those who received a nutrition consult within the last 3 days did not trigger the nutrition CAP.

Conclusions: Nutrition issues are prevalent in palliative home care clients, regardless of diagnosis; yet the nutrition CAP identified a small fraction of this group. There is a need to focus research and care guidelines toward life-limiting illnesses beyond cancer and address nutrition-related issues in this population.