Prospective observational cohort study of reached protein and energy targets in general wards during the post-intensive care period: The PROSPECT-I study

Rianne Slingerland-Boot, Ino van der Heijden, Nienke Schouten, Luuk Driessen, Sjoerd Meijer, Marco Mensink, Arthur van Zanten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Nutrition plays an essential role in the recovery of critical illness. In the post-Intensive Care Unit (ICU) period, patients typically return to oral nutrition gradually. However, studies quantifying nutritional intake in the post-ICU hospitalization period are scarce and formal guidelines are lacking. This study aims to describe energy and protein intake in detail over the entire post-ICU hospitalization period and explore associations between protein intake and clinical outcomes. Methods: A prospective observational single-center cohort study was conducted amongst post-ICU patients in general wards after a minimum ICU-stay of 72 h and who received (par)enteral feeding for ≥24 h in the ICU. Oral intake was assessed daily using food order lines and digital photography of meal leftovers. Other data, including amounts of (par)enteral nutrition, were collected from electronic medical records. The primary outcome was to identify energy and protein intake, and reached targets, in the post-ICU period. In addition, length of hospital stay after ICU discharge, readmission and mortality rates were compared between patients meeting protein targets or not. Results: In total, 48 patients were included. Complete nutritional data of 34 patients were analyzed in the current study, adding up to a total number of 484 observational days, 1681 photos and 6634 food order lines. Inter-rater agreement was excellent (ICC 0.878). Overall mean energy and protein adequacy for all nutritional groups was 82.3% (SD 18.3) and 83.1% (SD 19.8). Only 51.2% of the study participants (n = 21) reached overall >90% of prescribed protein targets during their entire post-ICU ward stay. The lowest intake was seen in the patient group with exclusively oral intake (median protein adequacy 75.5%), whereas patients with (supplemental) enteral nutrition (EN) all met >90% of their protein targets. Prescribed targets were below recommendations, and prescribed calories and proteins were neither ordered nor consumed. Discontinuation of EN resulted in immediate marked drops in energy (44.1%) and protein intake (50.7%). Subsequently, patients needed up to six days to reach protein targets again. No differences in clinical outcomes were observed. Conclusion: Most patients did not meet energy and protein targets in the post-ICU hospitalization period. Nutrition performance was highly dependent on the route of nutrition and was lowest among patients with oral intake only (despite of food fortification strategies and/or oral nutritional supplements). The best intake was observed in patients receiving (supplemental) EN. However, cessation of EN posed an immediate nutritional risk. No differences in clinical outcomes were found in this study. Our findings stress the need for follow-up studies to close the gap with individualized nutritional support in the post-ICU period to reach protein and energy targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2124-2134
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Adequacy
  • Deficit
  • Energy and protein intake
  • Post-ICU nutrition
  • Reached individual targets


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