Nutritional support in acute stroke: the impact of evidence-based guidelines

Perry, Linda and McLaren, Susan (2003) Nutritional support in acute stroke: the impact of evidence-based guidelines. Clinical Nutrition, 22(3), pp. 283-293. ISSN (print) 0261-5614


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Stroke patients experience multiple impairments which impair ability to eat and render them vulnerable to the deleterious sequelae of malnutrition. This study aimed to develop, implement and evaluate evidence-based guidelines for nutrition support following acute stroke using a multifaceted change management strategy. METHODS: Prospective quasi-experimental design. Documentation of two groups of 200 acute stroke patients admitted to medical and care of the elderly wards of an acute NHS Trust in South London was surveyed using a checklist before and after implementation of 24 guidelines for nutritional screening, assessment and support. Guidelines were based on systematic literature review and developed by consensus in a nurse-led multiprofessional group; implemented via a context-specific, multifaceted strategy including opinion leaders and educational programmes linked to audit and feedback. STAFF OUTCOMES: Compliance with guidelines by doctors, nurses, therapists. PATIENT OUTCOMES: Changes in Barthel Index scores and Body Mass Index in hospital, infective complications, length of stay, discharge destination. RESULTS: Statistically significant improvements in compliance with 15 guidelines occurred in the post-test group. Infective episodes showed a significant reduction in the post-test group but other patient outcomes were unaffected. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of evidence-based guidelines for nutritional support following acute stroke using a multifaceted strategy was associated with improvements in documented practice and selected patient outcomes.

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