Content validity of methods to assess malnutrition in cancer patients: a systematic review

Martine Sealy, Willemke Nijholt, M.M. Stuiver, M.M. van der Berg, Faith D. Ottery, Cees van der Schans, Jan L N Roodenburg, Harriët Jager-Wittenaar

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

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Rationale: Inadequate operationalisation of the multidimensial concept of malnutrition may result in inadequate evaluation of nutritional status. In this review we aimed to assess content validity of methods used to assess malnutrition in cancer patients, according to domains directly derived from European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) definitions for malnutrition.
Methods: Studies on malnutrition in adult cancer patients published between 1999 and 2013 were considered eligible. Methods to assess malnutrition were classified using 13 indicators within three domains that the malnutrition definitions of ESPEN and ASPEN have in common: A) Nutrient balance; B) Changes in body shape, body area and body composition; and C) Body function.
Content validity index per method (M-CVIA-C) was calculated by averaging indicator scores weighted per domain, quantifying to what extent the methods covered the construct of malnutrition. Acceptable content validity was defined as M-CVIA-C ≥0.80.
Results: 40 Different methods within 166 articles were identified. Median M-CVIA-C was 0.22 (interquartile range: 0.08-0.53). None of the methods reached M-CVIA-C=0.80. Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA; M-CVIA-C=0.75), Nutritional Screening Questionnaire (NSQ; M-CVIA-C=0.56) and Scored Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA; M-CVIA-C=0.53) were responsible for the top 25% of M-CVIA-C scores.
Conclusion: Content validity of methods that assess malnutrition in cancer patients varies widely and is unacceptable in terms of M-CVIA-C. MNA, NSQ and PG-SGA showed highest scores in terms of content validity.
Conflict of interest: None.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • malnutrition
  • cancer patients


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