Gilbert T, Bernard L, Alexandre M, Bin-Dorel S, Villeneuve L, Decullier E, Bonnefoy M, Anc Working Group.
Almost two in three patients who are aged 75 years and older and scheduled for surgery for colorectal cancer (CRC) are undernourished. Despite evidence that perioperative nutritional management can improve patients outcomes, international guidelines are still insufficiently applied in current practice. In this stepped-wedge cluster-randomized study of five surgical hospitals, we included 147 patients aged 70 years or older with scheduled abdominal surgery for CRC between October 2013 and December 2016. In the intervention condition, an outreach team comprising a geriatrician and a dietician visited patients and staff in surgical wards to assist with the correct application of guidelines. Evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription (according to nutritional status) were considered appropriate and strictly consistent with guidelines in 39.2% of patients in the intervention group compared to only 1.4% in the control group (p = 0.0002). Prescription of oral nutritional supplements during the perioperative period was significantly improved (41.9% vs. 4.1%; p < 0.0001). However, there were no benefits of the intervention on surgical complications or adverse events. A possible benefit of hospital stay reduction will need to be confirmed in further studies. This study highlights the importance of the implementation of quality improvement interventions into current practice for the perioperative nutritional management of older patients with CRC.