Malnutrition and Dysphagia in Long-Term Care: A Systematic Review
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Determining the co-occurrence of malnutrition and dysphagia is important to understand the extent to which swallowing impairment contributes to poor food intake in long-term care (LTC). This review investigated the impact of dysphagia on malnutrition in LTC by synthesizing the results of published literature. Seven electronic databases were used to search for English-language publications reporting malnutrition and dysphagia in LTC facilities from 1946 to 2013. Fourteen studies were eligible for inclusion. Overall, the literature on the co-occurrence of malnutrition and dysphagia in LTC shows a paucity of high-quality evidence. Articles reviewed lacked consistent definitions for both conditions. Methods used to confirm each diagnosis also differed and were of questionable validity. Based on a review of the literature, evidence of the existence of concurrent concerns with respect to malnutrition and dysphagia emerges. The reported frequency of participants in LTC with dysphagia ranges from 7% to 40%, while the percentage of those who were malnourished ranges from 12% to 54%. Due to discrepancies used to describe and measure these conditions, it is difficult to determine the exact prevalence of either condition separately, or in combination. Consequently, the impact of dysphagia on malnutrition must be considered and studied using valid definitions and measures.
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