A Qualitative Exploration of Factors Associated with Malnutrition among Community-dwelling Malnourished Older People in Kandy District, Sri Lanka
Introduction: Nutrition plays an important role in older people. Numerous factors are associated with malnutrition among community-dwelling older people. However, little is known about how malnourished older people experience their nutritional status. This study aimed to explore how malnourished community-dwelling older people perceive the factors associated with their nutritional status. Methods: An explorative qualitative design was performed in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. A group of 150 malnourished community-dwelling older people identified from a cross sectional survey were invited for Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). A purposive sampling method was used. Fifteen FGDs were conducted among 85 participants. A thematic analysis was done to identify relevant themes related to malnutrition status. Results: The mean age of the participants was 68.74 years (SD± 6.32). Their age range was 60 to 97 years. Four main themes were identified through FGDs: (1) factors affecting dietary patterns, (2) food choices, (3) health status, and (4) psychological challenges.
Conclusions: Community-dwelling malnourished older people stated factors associated with their dietary patterns, such as age-related factors, food choices, health status and mental status, lead to their malnutrition status. Public health professionals must understand and recognize these realities to improve the nutritional status of community-dwelling older people.
Keywords: Community-dwelling, Malnutrition, Older people, Sri Lanka