PURPOSE: To investigate the nutrition-related care needs of older patients in hospitals.
METHODS: A qualitative multimethod study was performed. By purposive sampling, older patients were included for observations of the nutrition process and interviews from a perioperative unit, an internal Medicine unit, and one acute geriatric care ward of an acute care hospital. Preliminary findings were discussed, validated, and further explored in two focus group discussions with interprofessional nutritional healthcare experts.
FINDINGS: Seventeen women and five men with a mean age of 86 years participated in patient observations and interviews. Eight experts with at least 10 years of professional experience who were employed in this setting for 3 years or more participated in interviews. Three themes of nutrition-related care needs were elaborated: The need to assess and address older patients' attitudes toward life, the need for nutrition-related education, and the need for food intake support. These care needs added to the development and validation of a new nursing diagnosis "risk for inadequate protein energy nutrition" and in consequence to develop a complex nursing intervention to optimize the nutrition of older patients.
CONCLUSIONS: It is crucial to assess and understand the patients' attitudes toward life, which affect purposes of treatment, diet, and menu choices.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Implementation of assessing nutrition-related care needs of older inpatients is needed. Addressing these care needs within the Advanced Nursing Process can lead to appropriate nursing diagnoses, nursing outcomes, and interventions, which enhance person-centered care, patients' self-care abilities, and consequently patients' nutritional status.