Guide will help physios tackle malnutrition in COPD patients

Physiotherapists can now access a practical, evidence-based guide to managing malnutrition in adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


The resource aims to help healthcare professionals identify and manage people with the condition who are malnourished or at risk of disease-related malnutrition.

It says the causes of malnutrition in COPD patients are varied, but can include the effects of medication or psychological and social factors such as depression, apathy and social isolation.

Sally King, a respiratory specialist physio at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, was part of a multidisciplinary panel of COPD and malnutrition experts that produced the guide.

‘We hope this guide will assist physios in giving appropriate dietary information, which will help in supporting the effectiveness of exercise programmes in patients who are malnourished,’ she said.

Research published by the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society in 2010 (volume 69 issue OCE2) estimated that about 21 per cent of individuals with COPD – up to 630,000 people in the UK – are at risk of malnutrition. It also found that the consequences of malnutrition in COPD were (reported speech, past tense) significant and associated with increased healthcare costs, mortality and hospital length of stay.

The guide, Managing Malnutrition in COPD, includes

  • an overview of COPD and malnutrition including its causes and clinical consequences, cost implications and details on prevalence
  • information on the identification and management of malnutrition in patients with COPD according to risk category
  • guidance on optimising oral intake, including dietary advice and the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements
  • a practical pathway on the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements in the management of malnutrition in COPD



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