A Systematic Literature Review on the Impact of Different Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Intensive Care Unit-Acquired Weakness
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Intensive care nursing
Muscle weakness
Physical function
Systematic literature review



Submitted : 2023-05-27
Accepted : 2023-06-11
Published : 2023-06-26


Background: There is a growing number of intensive care patients who survive from complicated intensive care procedures. However, many of these survivors struggle with muscle weakness, polyneuropathy, and reduced physical function as a result of intensive care unit-acquired weakness (ICUAW). Since nutrition is known to be crucial for the maintenance of muscle, several studies have investigated the effect of nutritional interventions on the development of ICUAW. Objective: The aim of this systematic literature review was to investigate the impact of nutrition on the development of ICUAW. Methods: This systematic literature review was conducted using the methodological framework described by Booth et al. A systematic literature search in CINAHL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE databases was conducted. Randomized controlled trials that investigated the effect of a nutritional intervention administered while the patient was admitted to the ICU were included. The endpoint was ICUAW or outcome measures encompassed by the ICUAW concept, such as muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, or reduced physical function. Results: Twenty articles met the inclusion criteria. Different nutritional interventions and different methods for measuring muscle weakness, muscle mass, and physical function were used in the primary studies. Inconsistent results were observed in studies that measured the short-term effects of nutritional interventions. None of the studies that measured ICUAW upon hospital discharge observed a difference in effect between nutritional intervention and the nutrition received by the control group. The samples in several studies were too small to determine the differences in the outcome measures of ICUAW. Some studies were pilot studies, while others had ICUAW as a secondary outcome. Conclusion: This literature review cannot determine the role of nutrition in the development of ICUAW. Due to the heterogeneous nature of the intensive care population, patients often have different nutritional needs. Future studies should be designed based on ICU patients’ individual nutritional needs. Furthermore, there is a need for standardization of how ICUAW is measured, so that results from future studies can be compared.


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