Unexplained weight loss

Percentage of residents who had unexplained weight loss. (see data dictionary)

What do you think?

  • Looking at these results over time, are there any trends?
  • Looking at these results over time and between zones, are there differences?
  • After selecting a facility, are the site results changing over time? How do the most recent quarter results compare to the provincial and zone results?
  • When comparing sites with similarities like zone, setting (e.g., urban or rural), operator type (e.g., private), and size, how are the results different? What factors could account for these differences?
  • Is there a relationship between these results and the family experience with food?

Whether you’re a resident, family member, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about why these differences might exist can start or inform conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.

Alberta Health Services, Analytics. “All 35 QIs by province/zone/facility”. (2019). [Dashboards showing RAI quality indicators, by province, zone, and site, by quarter]. AHS Tableau Reporting Platform. Retrieved from https://tableau.ahs.ca.

Understanding “unexplained weight loss”

This measure is a quality indicator (QI).

Residents living in long term care may experience unexplained weight loss for a variety of reasons, including their feelings about the food (e.g., preferences), access to and availability of food, or their disease processes.

The reason behind unexplained weight loss is important to understand. Weight loss can leave residents weakened and at greater risk for illness and injury. It may also mean there are underlying health concerns that need treatment. Weight loss can also mean that a resident needs increased supports with activities of daily living.

Considerations when viewing the results:

When thinking about this quality indicator, providers and leaders can consider a number of things to better understand and improve these results. Some questions they could ask before taking action include:

  • What processes are in place at a site to identify weight loss quickly, and offer timely treatment and support?
  • How can loved ones help understand unexplained weight loss?

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess long term care’s performance in these dimensions of quality:
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Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Appropriateness 
  • Effectiveness 
  • Efficiency 
  • Safety