Nutritional supplementation for hip fracture aftercare in older people

A Avenell, H H G Handoll
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, (4): CD001880

BACKGROUND: Older people with hip fractures are often malnourished at the time of fracture, and have poor food intake subsequently.

OBJECTIVES: To review the effects of nutritional interventions in older people recovering from hip fracture.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (December 2005), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2006, Issue 1), MEDLINE, six other databases and reference lists. We contacted investigators and handsearched journals.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of nutritional interventions for people aged over 65 years with hip fracture.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Both authors independently selected trials, extracted data and assessed trial quality. We sought additional information from trialists, and pooled data for primary outcomes.

MAIN RESULTS: Twenty-one randomised trials involving 1727 participants were included. Overall trial quality was poor, specifically regarding allocation concealment, assessor blinding and intention-to-treat analysis, and limited availability of outcome data. Eight trials evaluated oral multinutrient feeds: providing non-protein energy, protein, some vitamins and minerals. Oral feeds had no statistically significant effect on mortality (15/161 versus 17/176; relative risk (RR) 0.89, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.47 to 1.68) but may reduce 'unfavourable outcome' (combined outcome of mortality and survivors with medical complications) (14/66 versus 26/73; RR 0.52, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.84). Four trials examining nasogastric multinutrient feeding showed no evidence of an effect on mortality (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.50 to 1.97) but the studies were heterogeneous regarding case mix. Nasogastric feeding was poorly tolerated. There was insufficient information for other outcomes. Increasing protein intake in an oral feed was tested in four trials. There was no evidence for an effect on mortality (RR 1.42, 95% CI 0.85 to 2.37). Protein supplementation may have reduced the number of long term medical complications. Two trials, testing intravenous vitamin B1 and other water soluble vitamins, or 1-alpha-hydroxycholecalciferol (an active form of vitamin D) respectively, produced no evidence of effect for either supplement. One trial, evaluating dietetic assistants to help with feeding, showed a trend for a reduction in mortality (RR 0.57, 99% CI 0.29 to 1.11).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Some evidence exists for the effectiveness of oral protein and energy feeds, but overall the evidence for the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation remains weak. Adequately sized trials are required which overcome the methodological defects of the reviewed studies. In particular, the role of dietetic assistants requires further evaluation.

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