Around 50% of surgical patients are malnourished during hospitalization and many continue to lose weight after hospital discharge. Surgery combined with malnutrition is associated with loss of muscle mass and leads to serious consequences for the surgical patient. A recent cost-analysis found that disease related malnutrition constitutes about 2% of the total health care expenses, equivalent to around 18.7 millions per year in Faroe Islands. Patients in the Faroe Islands are not offered systematic nutritional or training support post-discharge, and surgical patients could therefore end up being even more malnourished after discharge from hospital. The prevalence of patient malnutrition in Faroe Islands is still unknown, and only a few patients are systematically screened for nutritional risk.
Numerous studies have found that nutritional interventions are effective in reducing weight loss in malnourished patients, and a few studies have examined the effect of combined nutrition and resistance training in patients following discharge. However, it remains unresolved if nutritional support combined with resistance training can reduce loss of muscle mass in surgical patients after discharge from hospital.
This study will consist of two trials adressing the unresolved issues regarding malnutrition amongst surgical patients. Both studies will involve patients at the surgical wards at the National Hospital of the Faroe Islands.
The aim of this study is to examine whether an intervention with independent nutritional supplements or an intervention combining nutritional supplements and resistance training is more effective in preventing loss of muscle mass than standard care in surgical patients following discharge. Muscle mass will be measured using Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Secondary outcomes are changes in body weight, quality of life, muscle strength and activities of daily living. Furthermore, we want to investigate if screening combined with a nutritional plan is effective in increasing energy and protein intake in hospitalized surgical patients. This study will also provide us with data on the prevalence of malnourished surgical patients at the National Hospital of The Faroe Islands.
In perspective, we know that for a majority of surgical patients the general condition only worsens after discharge and we want to investigate whether our proposed strategy can prevent the deterioration. Furthermore, we want to understand the magnitude of the problem amongst Faroese patients and to see if a relatively small effort could get patients to achieve their nutritional requirements.