Improving nursing students research knowledge through participation in a study about nutrition, its associated factors and assessment

Albert Westergren, Ellinor Edfors, Gita Hedin, Peter Hagell


Aims: The aims of this study were threefold: 1) to explore nursing students perceptions of knowledge development after participating in an actual research project; 2) to explore undernutrition and its relationship to other clinical factors; 3) to explore the user-friendliness of the Minimal Eating Observation and Nutrition Form (MEONF-II) in relation to dependency in Activities of Daily Living (ADL).

Methods: A pilot study (Study 1, S1) was conducted in October 2010, including 281 patients. After extending the research protocol a second data collection (S2) was conducted in March 2011, including 236 patients (total n=517). First and third year nursing students (n=188) collected the data, during one day of their clinical practice courses by assessing three patients each in hospitals or nursing homes. Students answered questions about their experiences from participating in the study. Patient related assessments included: MEONF-II; ADL dependency (S1 and S2); insomnia; low-spiritedness; and subjective health (S2). In addition, questions about the user-friendliness of MEONF-II were included (S1 and S2).

Results: Among the nursing students, 51% experienced that their knowledge about nutrition increased and 67% that their understanding for research increased by participating in the project. Out of the patients, 57% were women, 50% were almost independent, 27% had some dependency, 23% were almost totally dependent in ADL, and 48% were at moderate/
high undernutrition risk. In S2, 32% of patients had insomnia, and 46% experienced low-spiritedness. Dependency in 5-6 and 3-4 ADLs (OR, 2.439 and 2.057, respectively), compared to dependency in 0-2 ADLs, were the strongest predictors for undernutrition risk, followed by insomnia (OR 2.124). Nursing students experienced the MEONF-II as easy to understand (93%), easy to answer (94%) and relevant (94%), and the suggestions for measures to take in case of risk as relevant (95%), independent of the patients’ ADL status.

Conclusions: By participating in an actual research project nursing students gets an understanding for research and tools for working with quality improvements in their future role as professional nurses. Undernutrition, mental and physical factors constitute coexisting problems in need for further investigation. Nursing students perceive the MEONF-II as user-friendly, independent of patient ADL dependency.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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