Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Impact of malnutrition management e-learning module on GPs’ knowledge: a pilot study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-25, 13:16 authored by Aisling A Geraghty, Patricia Dominguez Castro, Ciara ME Reynolds, Sarah Browne, Frank Bourke, Catriona BradleyCatriona Bradley, Karen Finnigan, Sarah Clarke, Barbara ClyneBarbara Clyne, Gerard Bury, Carla Perrotta, Sharon Kennelly, Clare A Corish

Background: Malnutrition is underdiagnosed in primary care. GPs are key healthcare contacts for older adults at risk of protein-energy malnutrition; however, lack of knowledge and confidence in its diagnosis and treatment is often reported.

Aim: To evaluate the impact of a bespoke online education module on GP malnutrition knowledge and management.

Design & setting: A prospective pre-post pilot study with 23 GPs and eight GP trainees in the Republic of Ireland.

Method: The module included units on the following: 'malnutrition definition, prevalence, and latest evidence'; 'identifying malnutrition in clinical practice'; 'food-first advice'; 'reviewing malnutrition'; and 'oral nutritional supplements'. Participant knowledge was measured using a multiple choice questionnaire (MCQ) before and after the module (n = 31), and 6 weeks following completion (n = 11). Case studies assessing identification and management of malnutrition were evaluated by a clinical specialist dietitian with expertise in managing malnutrition. Changes in assessment performance were calculated using paired t-tests. Acceptability was evaluated using a questionnaire.

Results: Post-training, 97% of GPs increased MCQ scores from baseline (+25%, P<0.001), with the greatest improvement in 'identifying malnutrition in clinical practice' (mean increase 47%, P<0.001). Eleven GPs completed the 6-week MCQ with scores remaining significantly higher than baseline (mean increase 15%, P = 0.005); 'identifying malnutrition in clinical practice' remained the most highly scored (mean increase 40%, P<0.001). Seventeen GPs completed the case studies; 76% at baseline and 88% post-module correctly calculated malnutrition risk scores. Appropriate malnutrition management improved for 47% of GPs after module completion.

Conclusion: This e-learning module improved malnutrition knowledge, with good short-term retention in a small cohort. Development of online evidence-based nutrition education may improve GP nutrition care.


Irish Health Research Board (HRB) quality and patient safety funding stream (RCQPS-2017–4)



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Published Citation

Geraghty AA, et al. Impact of malnutrition management e-learning module on GPs' knowledge: a pilot study. BJGP Open. 2023;7(1):BJGPO.2022.0111.

Publication Date

21 March 2023

PubMed ID



  • General Practice




  • Published Version (Version of Record)