B.R.I.D.G.E. Study – Building Resilience and InDependence for Geriatric Patients in the ED


Screening and addressing malnutrition risk

The Opportunity
Malnutrition is a growing public health crisis in the U.S., with up to 50 percent of seniors either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. This complex, multifaceted condition contributes to poor health, over $51 billion in annual health-related costs, and premature death. Numerous health-related and social risk factors can contribute to malnutrition.

Given the significant impact of malnutrition on successful aging, West Health Institute and the University of North Carolina Hospitals’ Emergency Department (ED) are advancing care for seniors by screening for malnutrition and food insecurity in the ED. During the two-year study, (B.R.I.D.G.E. Study) which began in October 2018, a process will be developed and tested to systematically identify older adult patients who are at risk for malnutrition and food insecurity and link them with community-based solutions to address the broader social needs that may cause or contribute to their malnutrition risk.

Our Goal
Malnutrition and food insecurity screening tools will be identified and tested, and a new ED-based screening process for senior patients will be established and integrated into UNC’s clinical workflows. Patients who screen positive for malnutrition risk and food insecurity will be linked to a community-based organization that will determine the best approach to address the contributing modifiable risk factors, which may include difficulty affording or preparing food, lack of transportation, insecure housing, limited mobility, or social isolation.