Oral nutritional interventions in frail older people who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition: a systematic review

Thomson K, Rice S, Arisa O, Johnson E, Tanner L, Marshall C, Sotire T, Richmond C, O'Keefe H, Mohammed W, Gosney M, Raffle A, Hanratty B, McEvoy CT, Craig D, Ramsay SE
Record ID 32018004223
Authors' objectives: Malnutrition worsens the health of frail older adults. Current treatments for malnutrition may include prescribed oral nutritional supplements, which are multinutrient products containing macronutrients and micronutrients. To assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of oral nutritional supplements (with or without other dietary interventions) in frail older people who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
Authors' results and conclusions: Eleven studies (n = 822 participants) were included in the effectiveness review, six of which were fully or partly funded by industry. Meta-analyses suggested positive effects of oral nutritional supplements compared with standard care for energy intake (kcal) (standardised mean difference 1.02, 95% confidence interval 0.15 to 1.88; very low quality evidence) and poor mobility (mean difference 0.03, p 
Authors' methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Scopus, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) and grey literature were searched from inception to 13 September 2021. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of oral nutritional supplements in frail older people (aged ≥ 65 years) who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition (defined as undernutrition as per National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines). Meta-analysis and network meta-analysis were undertaken, where feasible, along with a narrative synthesis. A cost-effectiveness review was reported narratively. A de novo model was developed using effectiveness evidence identified in the systematic review to estimate the cost-effectiveness of oral nutritional supplements. The review scope was narrow in focus as few primary studies used frailty measures (or our proxy criteria). This resulted in only 11 included studies. The small evidence base and varied quality of evidence meant that it was not possible to determine accurate estimates of the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of oral nutritional supplements. Furthermore, only English-language publications were considered.
Authors' identified further reserach: Future research should focus on independent, high-quality, adequately powered studies to investigate oral nutritional supplements alongside other nutritional interventions, with longer-term follow-up and detailed analysis of determinants, intervention components and cost-effectiveness.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2022
URL for additional information: English
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Full HTA
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Frailty
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Malnutrition
  • Frail Elderly
  • AGED
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
Contact Name: journals.library@nihr.ac.uk
Contact Email: journals.library@nihr.ac.uk
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.