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Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;96(5):1000-7. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.037853. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Malnutrition self-screening by using MUST in hospital outpatients: validity, reliability, and ease of use.

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Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.



Although nutritional screening with a tool such as the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) is recommended for outpatients, staff are under pressure to undertake a variety of other tasks. Little attention has been paid to the validity of patient self-screening with MUST.


This study in 205 outpatients with a mean (±SD) age of 55 ± 17 y (56% male) assessed the practicalities of self-screening, its agreement with screening undertaken by a trained health care professional (HCP), and its test-retest reliability.


After the participants provided consent, screening was undertaken by the patients themselves and then by a trained HCP who was unaware of the self-screening results. All patients completed an ease-of-use questionnaire. Test-retest reliability of self-screening was established in a subset of 60 patients.


A total of 19.6% of patients categorized themselves as "at risk" of malnutrition (9.8% medium, 9.8% high). For the 3-category classification of MUST (low, medium, high), agreement between self-screening and HCP screening was 90% (κ = 0.70; SE = 0.058, P < 0.001). For the 2-category classification (low risk, medium + high risk), agreement was 93% (κ = 0.78, SE = 0.057, P < 0.001). Disagreements were not systematically under- or overcategorized. Test-retest reliability was almost perfect (κ = 0.94, P < 0.001). Most patients (71%) completed self-screening in <5 min. Patients found the tool easy or very easy to understand (96%) and complete (98%), with 94% reporting that they were happy to screen themselves.


Self-screening involving MUST in outpatients is acceptable to patients, user-friendly, reliable, and associated with good agreement with HCP screening. This trial was registered at as NCT00714324.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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