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J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Feb;27(1):88-95. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12104. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Barriers and facilitators to screening for malnutrition by community nurses: a qualitative study.

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Faulty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.



A substantial proportion of individuals who live in community settings in the UK experience malnutrition. Routine screening for malnutrition by healthcare practitioners has been recommended in many regions. The present study aimed to understand community nurses' perceptions of barriers and facilitators to undertaking nutritional screening.


A qualitative study was undertaken with a purposive sample of community nurses working in one UK healthcare organisation. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit perceptions of barriers and facilitators. Interviews were digitally recorded, anonymised and transcribed. Initial codes were assigned for salient constructs identified in the transcripts, refined by grouping, and a thematic list was developed.


Twenty district nurses and community matrons were interviewed at which time saturation of the data was achieved. Six themes emerged: supportive organisational culture, time and resource to screen and intervene, ease and acceptability of the screening tool, professional judgement as good as screening, the need for training and sharing good practice, and enhancing communication between care settings.


The findings of the present study suggest that screening is more likely to be completed where an organisation is perceived to have a clear expectation that it is undertaken and also demonstrates this through training and availability of resources. The need for a process or tool that nurses find easy to use and relevant to their practice area was highlighted. Further research should examine the effect of the use of a nutritional screening tool by community nurses on nutritional care planning and intervention.


barriers; facilitators; nursing practice; nutritional screening; qualitative study; screening tool

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