Date of Award

Summer 6-23-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Anita Nucci

Second Advisor

Barbara Hopkins

Third Advisor

Jessica Alvarez


Background: The increasing use of electronic health records (EHR) provides a novel opportunity to evaluate hospital-based nutritional outcomes, such as malnutrition. There is no universally accepted screening tool for the detection of malnutrition. However, assessment for malnutrition should be made early, be simple, based on scientific evidence, and include data on age, gender, and disease severity. The malnutrition screening tool (MST) used in this study is a two question tool that assesses two parameters commonly seen when diagnosing malnutrition (weight loss and loss of appetite).

Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine the ability of the MST used at a tertiary or quaternary hospital to accurately identify patients with malnutrition by comparing it against the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition criteria for malnutrition.

Participants/setting: A descriptive cohort study was conducted that included 167 patients admitted to Emory University Hospital between October 1 - 14, 2014. MST score, malnutrition diagnostic criteria, and demographic and anthropometric characteristics were obtained to describe and assess the study population.

Statistical Analysis: Frequency statistics were used to describe the demographic and anthropometric characteristics and MST score results. Normality statistics were used to determine the distribution of continuous variables. A Chi Square table was used to determine the significance of the association between the MST score and diagnosis of malnutrition made by the Registered Dietitian (RD) as well as the sensitivity and specificity of the MST.

Results: A total of 167 patients (48.5% male, 51.5% Caucasian, non-Hispanic) were admitted during the study period. The vast majority of the patient population with malnutrition (79%), as diagnosed by the RD, was identified as such by the MST (p < 0.01). The sensitivity and specificity of the MST was 79% and 62%, respectively.

Conclusion: The MST is a useful screening tool for malnutrition in adults admitted to a large urban university hospital. There is a lack of research validating the MST in the adult

outpatient population. Therefore, future studies are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the MST in this population.