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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Older patients' use of technology for a post-discharge nutritional intervention - A mixed-methods feasibility study

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BACKGROUND: Malnutrition is frequent in older people and a precursor for morbidity and hospitalisation; furthermore low intake and weight loss during and after hospitalisation is well-described. Such patients are often excluded from technology projects on account of lack of skills. This is a barrier for their access to many current and future health care offers.

OBJECTIVES: To test the acceptability, feasibility and preliminary efficacy of technology-supported energy- and protein-enforced homedelivered meals for older patients discharged from hospital.

DESIGN: Mixed method design including a quasi-experimental controlled feasibility trial and embedded qualitative interviews.

PARTICIPANTS: Older medical patients (mean age 79.4 years; women 66.7%) at nutritional risk and discharged to own home were included consecutively to first the control group (n=18) and later the intervention group (n=18). Nine intervention and 16 control group patients completed the project.

METHODS: Intervention: group received: 1) enriched meals delivered to participants' homes 12 weeks after discharge, and 2) a tablet computer combining goal setting for intake with self-monitoring and feedback. Control group were treated as usual. Data collection was done at baseline, and at six and 12 weeks follow-up. Feasibility evaluation focused on 1) inclusion and retention and 2) acceptability and functionality of the intervention. Efficacy primary endpoint: Muscle strength and BMI. Secondary: Health related quality of life (HRQoL), depression; readmissions, mortality.

RESULTS: Technology challenges were related to immaturity of the out-of hospital app version; however, participants were motivated and capable of using the device. Inclusion and retention was challenged by the acceptability of the nutritional intervention and exhaustion among patients. Mortality was high. Although weaker at baseline the intervention group increased their muscle strength more consistently than did the control group: Handgrip strength with 2.5kg vs 0.9kg and chairto-stand-test with 3.3 vs. 1.8 times. They also improved their depression score and HRQoL more, and patients reported increased intake, appetite, and energy in the interviews. Relatives confirmed this and also reported positive impact on their level of worry and on the relationship with the older person.

CONCLUSION: The study provided valuable insight into appropriate methods and procedures as well as older people's preferences and views on barriers to successful intervention and use of technology in health care. This will guide the design of a future sufficiently powered study. Effect evaluation provided guidance for future sample size calculation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Pages (from-to)312-321
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

ID: 49801809