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Open AccessArticle

Exploring the Views and Dietary Practices of Older People at Risk of Malnutrition and Their Carers: A Qualitative Study

1
Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London NW3 2PF, UK
2
Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
3
Patient and Public Involvement Representative, London, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(6), 1281; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061281
Received: 10 April 2019 / Revised: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 5 June 2019
Background: While malnutrition is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in older people, it is commonly under-recognised. We know little on the views of community-dwelling older people and their carers regarding the management of malnutrition. The aim of the study was: (a) to explore views and dietary practices of older people at risk of malnutrition and their carers; (b) to identify gaps in knowledge, barriers and facilitators to healthy eating in later life; (c) to explore potential interventions for malnutrition in primary care. Methods: A qualitative study was performed using semi-structured interviews with participants recruited from four general practices and a carers’ focus group in London. Community-dwelling people aged ≥75, identified as malnourished or at risk of malnutrition (n = 24), and informal carers of older people (n = 9) were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Older people at risk of malnutrition rarely recognise appetite or weight loss as a problem. Commonly held perceptions include that being thin is healthy and ‘snacking’ is unhealthy. Changes in household composition, physical or mental health conditions and cognitive impairment can lead to inadequate food intake. Most carers demonstrate an awareness of malnutrition, but also a lack of knowledge of what constitutes a nutritious diet. Although older people rarely seek any help, most would value advice from their GP/practice nurse, a dietitian or another trained professional. Conclusion: Older people at risk of malnutrition and their carers lack knowledge on nutritional requirements in later life but are receptive to intervention. Training for health professionals in delivering tailored dietary advice should be considered. View Full-Text
Keywords: malnutrition; primary care; older people; carers; qualitative research malnutrition; primary care; older people; carers; qualitative research
MDPI and ACS Style

Avgerinou, C.; Bhanu, C.; Walters, K.; Croker, H.; Liljas, A.; Rea, J.; Bauernfreund, Y.; Kirby-Barr, M.; Hopkins, J.; Appleton, A.; Kharicha, K. Exploring the Views and Dietary Practices of Older People at Risk of Malnutrition and Their Carers: A Qualitative Study. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1281.

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