Original Research

Evidence on nutritional therapy practice guidelines and implementation in adult critically ill patients: A systematic scoping review

Nomaxabiso M. Mooi, Busisiwe P. Ncama
Curationis | Vol 42, No 1 | a1973 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v42i1.1973 | © 2019 Nomaxabiso M. Mooi, Busisiwe P. Ncama | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2018 | Published: 13 December 2019

About the author(s)

Nomaxabiso M. Mooi, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Busisiwe P. Ncama, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: The rapid increase in disease-related malnutrition makes it almost impossible for healthcare practitioners and policymakers to keep up with its negative consequences. Consequently, healthcare organisations and decision-makers have called for accelerated and double-duty actions to manage the double burden of malnutrition. Guidelines standardise nutritional practices, improve nutritional status and reduce hospitalisation duration and save costs.

Objectives: A systematic scoping review of the nutritional therapy practice guidelines and implementation in critically ill adults was undertaken to identify the breadth of literature on the topic, summarise findings and identify gaps.

Methods: A comprehensive search strategy was designed and implemented to identify eligible studies from eight databases, websites of organisations, government departments and academic platforms. Reference lists of included studies were also searched for relevant studies. We assessed the quality of included studies, completed a descriptive numerical summary and analysed them.

Results: In total, 1555 titles and 101 abstracts were screened, 65 underwent full text review and 19 were retained for data extraction. Studies scored average to high on quality assessment, and a summary of characteristics of included studies is presented. Nutritional therapy practice guidelines are considered a proactive strategy for enhanced, uniform and individualised nutritional practices and factors that influence implementation were identified.

Conclusions: A gap exists between research recommendations and actual practice despite the growing interest in implementation of nutritional therapy guidelines in critical care. There is a need for more research to evaluate the practicality of available guidelines.


critically ill adults; nutritional therapy; practice guidelines; implementation; enteral nutritional therapy protocol; parenteral nutritional therapy protocol; algorithm; scoping review


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Crossref Citations

1. Remote nutrition care during the first wave of COVID‐19 pandemic: Did it impact nutrition therapy goals?
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Nutrition in Clinical Practice  vol: 39  issue: 1  first page: 210  year: 2024  
doi: 10.1002/ncp.11003