The prevalence of malnutrition in spinal cord injuries patients: a UK multicentre study

Samford Wong, Fadel Derry, Ali Jamous, Shashivadan P Hirani, George Grimble, Alastair Forbes

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Data on the prevalence of malnutrition among patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI) are lacking. The aim of the present study was to assess nutritional risk at admission, and the status of nutritional support in the UK SCI Centres (SCIC); a cross-sectional, multicentre study in four SCIC. A standardised questionnaire was used and distributed to the participating SCIC. After obtaining informed consent, baseline demographic data, nutritional risk score by the 'Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool', BMI and routine blood biochemistry were collected from every patient admitted to an SCIC. The four SCIC, comprising 48·2 % of the total UK SCI beds, contributed data from 150 patients. On admission, 44·3 % of patients were malnourished or at risk of undernutrition. Nutritional risk was more common in patients with acute high cervical SCI than those with lower SCI (60·7 v. 34·5 %), and nutritional risk was more common in those with additional complications including ventilatory support (with tracheostomy, 56·3 v. 38·7 %). Also, 45 % of patients were at risk of overnutrition (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2). The prevalence of malnutrition in SCI patients admitted to SCIC is higher than national figures focused on general hospitalised patients, indicating that SCI patients are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. Patients with SCI who have a tracheostomy may need additional attention. Given the potential negative impact of malnutrition on clinical outcomes, an emphasis on mandatory nutrition screening, followed by detailed assessment for at-risk individuals should be in place in the SCIC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-23
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Spinal Cord Injuries

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