Methods

This project includes two main components:(a) a national survey about food and nutrition status among the elderly, and (b) the development of an electronic surveillance system for screening, diagnosis and referral of the elderly in nutritional risk.

The elderly’s national food and nutrition survey follows a cross-sectional observational design. Data collection will be done through computer-assisted face-to-face structured interview, followed by anthropometric measurements conducted by trained professionals (nutritionists or dietitians). The first interview includes the following data collection: socio-demographic, physical activity, nutritional status including anthropometric measurements and a first 24h recall. The second interview includes the second 24h recall.

The development of the electronic surveillance system of malnourishment among the elderly (including screening, alert and referral components) will be based both on systematic literature review about existing similar systems (and their effectiveness) and on an expert consensus method: Delphi panel.

The final product of this consensus process will be a short list of clinic indicators for nutritional screening in primary care and the elderly residential homes, as well as a standard operating workflow for malnutrition diagnosis. After the development of the electronic surveillance system a pilot study will be undertaken at one primary care unit and at one elderly residential home in the Lisbon and Tagus valley region to validate the system, identifying implementation difficulties and improvement opportunities.