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To assess the prevalence and to identify the associated factors of malnutrition among elderly Chinese with physical functional dependency.
Face-to-face interviews using standardised questionnaires were conducted to collect demographic information, health-related issues and psychosocial status. Physical function was measured by the Barthel Index (BI), and nutrition status was assessed by the Mini Nutritional Assessment–Short Form. Multivariate binary logistic regression was used to assess associated factors of malnutrition.
A total of 2323 participants (aged ≥ 60 years) with physical functional dependency in five provinces in China were enrolled using a multistage cluster sampling scheme.
The prevalence of malnutrition was 17·9 % (95 % CI 16·3, 19·4). Multivariable binary logistic regression revealed the independent risk factors of poor nutrition status were being female, older age, lower educational status, poor hearing, poor physical functional status, lack of hobbies, low religious participation, poor social support, lack of social participation and changes in social participation. The study found that the most significant independent risk factor for malnutrition was complete physical functional dependence (OR 4·46, 95 % CI 2·92, 6·82).
The findings of the study confirm that malnutrition and the risk of malnutrition are prevalent in Chinese older adults with physical functional dependency. In addition to demographic and physical health-related factors, psychosocial factors, which are often overlooked, are independently associated with nutrition status in Chinese older adults with physical functional dependency. A holistic approach should be adopted to screen for malnutrition and develop health promotion interventions in this vulnerable population.
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