Impact of malnutrition on survival and healthcare utilization in Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes: A retrospective cohort analysis

Naseer Ahmed, Yong Choe, Vikkie A. Mustad, Sumita Chakraborty, Scott Goates, Menghua Luo, Jeffrey I. Mechanick

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35 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study was to examine the impact of pre-existing malnutrition on survival and economic implications in elderly patients with diabetes. Research design and methods A retrospective observational study was conducted to examine the impact of malnutrition with or without other significant health conditions on survival time and healthcare costs using the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data from 1999 to 2014 for beneficiaries with a confirmed first date of initial diagnosis of diabetes (n=15 121 131). The primary outcome was survival time, which was analyzed using all available data and after propensity score matching. Healthcare utilization cost was a secondary outcome. Results A total of 801 272 beneficiaries were diagnosed with malnutrition. The analysis on propensity score-matched data for the effect of common conditions on survival showed that the risk for death in beneficiaries with diabetes increased by 69% in malnourished versus normo-nourished (HR, 1.69; 99.9% CI 1.64 to 1.75; P<0.0001) beneficiaries. Malnutrition increased the risk for death within each of the common comorbid conditions including ischemic heart disease (1.63; 1.58 to 1.68), chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (1.60; 1.55 to 1.65), stroke or transient ischemic attack (1.57; 1.53 to 1.62), heart failure (1.54; 1.50 to 1.59), chronic kidney disease (1.50; 1.46 to 1.55), and acute myocardial infarction (1.47; 1.43 to 1.52). In addition, the annual total spending for the malnourished beneficiaries was significantly greater than that for the normo-nourished beneficiaries (36 079 vs 20 787; P<0.0001). Conclusions Malnutrition is a significant comorbidity affecting survival and healthcare costs in CMS beneficiaries with diabetes. Evidence-based clinical decision pathways need to be developed and implemented for appropriate screening, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of malnourished patients, and to prevent malnutrition in normo-nourished patients with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000471
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • health care utilization
  • malnutrition
  • mortality
  • retrospective study


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