iPhone Application Helps Clinicians Screen for Malnutrition

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The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) is a tool composed of simple measurements and brief questions designed to identify nutritional status and evaluate the risk of malnutrition in elderly patients. Clinicians have been using the validated screening tool to help treat and prevent malnutrition in older adults since the 1990s, and now the MNA has become even easier to use via the release of the MNA-Short Form (MNA-SF) “app” for the Apple iPhone and iPad in July 2011. This free app, released by the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, uses the shortened version of the MNA, which streamlines the evaluation process into only six questions (the original MNA includes 18 questions) on the following areas: food intake, weight loss, mobility, psychological stress or acute disease, neuropsychological problems, and body mass index. The app generates a screening score based on the responses, calculates the patient’s nutritional status, and then recommends the appropriate intervention.

To ensure patient confidentiality, the assessment results can be e-mailed to the clinician for later viewing, but the app identifies the patient by a reference number and not by name. “With such a tool available, specifically validated in the elderly and now more flexible, quick and easy to use, it should become standard practice to screen the elderly for malnutrition or risk of malnutrition, in order that appropriate nutritional intervention can be implemented,” said Jürgen Bauer, MD, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, coauthor of a significant 2009 study that validated the MNA-SF, in a Nestlé press release. For more information about the MNA-SF app, visit www.mna-elderly.com.