Poster Presentation Joint 2016 COSA and ANZBCTG Annual Scientific Meeting

Improving methods for the identification of malnutrition in culturally and linguistically diverse patients (#334)

Jane Stewart 1 , Anna Boltong 2 , Wendy Swan 3 , Heather Davis 4 , June Savva 5 , Karman Liu 6 , Hollie Bevans 7 , Ibolya Nyulasi 1
  1. Alfred Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  2. Cancer Information and Support Services, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  3. Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton, VIC, Australia
  4. Southern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  5. Monash Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  6. Peninsula Health, Frankston, VIC, Australia
  7. Western Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Cancer-related malnutrition is common and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and higher healthcare costs. Evidence suggests that timely malnutrition screening and early nutrition intervention improves patient outcomes.

Victoria is Australia’s most culturally diverse state with residents born in over 230 nations and speaking over 200 languages1. The Malnutrition Screening Tool is only available in English and there is little information about the completion of screening in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients.  


1. Ascertain current practice in the administration of malnutrition screening for CALD patients.

2. Identify priority languages for the cultural adaptation of screening tools in 17 Victorian cancer services.


Online questionnaires were distributed to Dietitians and Health Professionals conducting malnutrition screening at 17 Victorian cancer services.

Data from the Victorian Admitted Episode Dataset (VAED 2014-2015) were analysed to determine the top 10 preferred languages other than English in adult patients.


Preliminary results suggest that dietitians perceive malnutrition screening is routinely completed in only one third (31%) of CALD patients. For those patients who are screened, all respondents report using an interpreter for less than 25% of screens. The majority (85%) of respondents report using a family member most (>75%) of the time. Language was reported as a major barrier for effective malnutrition screening and major enablers include the presence of family members and interpreters.

The top 10 languages spoken across the 17 cancer services were identified. These languages apply to 77% of all admissions with a preferred language other than English.


Practices relating to malnutrition screening appear to be suboptimal in CALD patients. The cultural adaptation of malnutrition screening tools is required to better support the nutritional needs of CALD patients. Using the top 10 languages identified in this study would ensure the majority of CALD patients in Victoria have access to malnutrition screening in their preferred language.

  1. Cultural Responsiveness Framework: Guidelines for Victorian Health Services. Department of Health, 2009; Accessed at: