Julianna Charles, Medical Student

Undergraduate Medicine
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Determining the prevalence of malnutrition risk in older adults ages ≥65 in Windsor-Essex County: lessons learned through embedding malnutrition risk screening into primary care medicine

The most recent Canada-wide survey on malnutrition, the 2023 Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, determined that 35.6% of older adults were at high malnutrition risk. Despite the pronounced prevalence of malnutrition in Canadian older adults and its negative impacts on patients, we currently lack systematic implementation of nutrition risk screening. Community-based primary care provides an optimal setting to intervene and integrate preventative nutrition support. However, large-scale adoption of routine malnutrition screening in primary care clinics requires physician buy-in, support and training from registered dieticians, and additional funding for resources that community-living older adults can be directed towards once identified to be at high malnutrition risk. To advocate for the adoption of preventative interventions, it is important to understand the burden of malnutrition in one’s community. The prevalence of malnutrition risk in Windsor-Essex County is currently unknown. Our study aimed to determine this baseline and also provide additional information through subgroup analyses. Learning objectives: 1. Outline the implementation of the SCREEN-8© tool in primary care practices 2. Provide a snapshot into the prevalence of malnutrition risk in Windsor-Essex County 3. Discuss the successes and barriers of implementing nutrition screening tools in primary care practices 4. Highlight the role that primary care physicians can have in championing malnutrition risk screenings and advocating for more nutrition resources within the community.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Julianna Charles is a second-year medical student at the Windsor campus of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. She completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University with a B. Sc. in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. She was introduced to public health policy, change management, and quality improvement during her Master in Health Informatics at the University of Toronto. Julianna has honed her skills in project implementation and strategy development during her three years working on health IT and clinical education projects at St. Michael’s Hospital, located in Toronto. Since entering medical school she has become interested in better understanding implementation methods for enacting sustainable downstream practice changes. This project has enabled her to exercise her macroscopic and microscopic lens as the team looks into how we can better integrate nutrition into primary care medicine in Ontario.