Nutritional assessment is the systematic process of collecting and interpreting information in order to make decisions about the nature and cause of nutrition related health issues that affect an individual (British Dietetic Association (BDA), 2012).
This differs from nutritional screening (link to Screening and MUST page) which is a brief risk assessment which can be carried out by any healthcare professional and which may lead to a nutritional assessment by a dietetician.
Following a structured assessment path enables health professionals to carry out a quality nutritional assessment in order to identify those who need nutritional intervention, and to improve clinical decision making using a person centred approach. The process promotes consistent quality of practice; is user friendly; and allows effective monitoring of patients. A structured assessment pathway does not remove autonomy; it encourages professional judgement and informed decision making at every stage. The process provides a rationale for the nutritional intervention, and allows for revision of the plan as individual circumstances change over time.