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Malnutrition leads to worse quality of life in systemic sclerosis patients

07 Apr 2018

Severe malnutrition appears to negatively affect quality of life (QoL) in patients with systemic sclerosis, which underscores the importance of routine and standardized nutritional screenings as well as appropriate and multimodal interventions, a recent study has shown.

Using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST), researchers assessed the nutritional status of 129 systemic sclerosis patients (mean age 59.1±13.8 years; 90.7 percent female). The Short Form 36 Questionnaire (SF-36) and the Scleroderma Health Assessment Questionnaire (SHAQ) were used to evaluate participant QoL.

According to the MUST results, 14.7 percent (n=19) of patients were at medium risk of malnutrition while 10.9 percent (n=14) were at high risk. There were 14 malnourished participants, in whom the mean body mass index was significantly lower (p<0.001) and weight loss was significantly more common (p<0.001).

Almost all measures of quality of life in the SF-36 was significantly worse in malnourished participants. For instance, the mean scores in the physical functioning (15.0 vs 60.0; p<0.001), general health (32.0 vs 45.0; p=0.008), vitality (31.3 vs 50.0; p<0.001) and social functioning (37.5 vs 75.0; p<0.001) were all significantly higher in well-nourished participants.

Similarly, findings for the mental health (55 vs 70.0; p=0.028), role physical (18.8 vs 50.0; p<0.001) and role emotional (25 vs 66.7; p=0.005) domains were significantly worse in malnourished participants. Only SF-36-defined bodily pain was comparable between the two patient groups (31.0 vs 41.0; p=0.124).

By comparison, the SHAQ score, which measures disease-specific QoL, was significantly higher in the malnourished participants, indicating greater disease-specific impairments (1.7 vs 0.9; p<0.001).

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