Awareness and consideration of malnutrition among oncologists: Insights from an exploratory survey

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Objectives: The attitude toward malnutrition varies considerably among oncologists and many malnourished cancer patients receive inadequate nutritional support. The aim of this brief report was to report the results of the exploratory national survey conducted by the Italian Society of Medical Oncology (AIOM) and the Italian Society of Artificial Nutrition and Metabolism (SINPE) before publication of a consensus document aimed at evaluating current attitudes toward malnutrition and management of nutrition, among Italian medical oncologists. Methods: Between January and July 2015, the AIOM and the SINPE conducted a national web-based exploratory survey to investigate the attitude of oncologists toward malnutrition, and the management of nutritional support, before publication of an intersociety consensus document. Results: Of the 2375 AIOM members, 135 (5.7%) participated in the survey, with a satisfactory distribution across all Italian regions. Nutritional assessment and support were routinely integrated into patient care for 38 (28%) responders. According to 66 (49%) participants, nutritional assessment was carried out only at the patients' request (n = 62), or not at all (n = 4). Availability of clinical nutritionists was reported by 88 (65%) participants. For 131 responders (97%), nutritional status was decisive (n = 63) or often crucial (n = 68) in assessing whether anticancer treatment was practicable or would be tolerated. Conclusions: The low response rate may reflect the lack of awareness and consideration of nutritional issues among Italian oncologists. Although malnutrition and nutritional support seemed to be perceived by the responders as relevant factors for the efficacy of oncologic treatments, it seems that nutritional care practices may well be inappropriate. The lack of collaboration between oncologists and clinical nutritionists may be the first obstacle to overcome. Educational intersociety initiatives aimed at improving nutritional support management for cancer patients in Italy appear urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028-32
Number of pages5
JournalNutrition International
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutritional support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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