Publication Details

Lepre, B., Crowley, J., Mpe, D., Bhoopatkar, H., Mansfield, K. J., Wall, C. & Beck, E. J. (2020). Australian and New Zealand Medical Students' Attitudes and Confidence Towards Providing Nutrition Care in Practice. Nutrients, 12 (3), 598-1-598-13.


The prevalence of lifestyle-related chronic disease is increasing. Doctors in primary care are ideally placed to support patient nutrition care, but recent reviews show education is still lacking. This study aimed to identify medical students’ attitudes towards the role of nutrition in health, nutrition knowledge, and perceptions of nutrition education, in postgraduate (Australia) and undergraduate (New Zealand) programs in order to identify gaps in nutrition knowledge and skills to better inform future education. Second-year graduate and third-year undergraduate students participated in semi-structured focus groups and interviews. A general inductive approach was used to investigate students’ 1) attitudes toward the role of nutrition in health, 2) nutrition knowledge based on nutrition-specific competencies and 3) perceived adequacy of nutrition education received. Interviews (nine) and focus groups (seven) identified four common themes: 1) role of medical practitioners in nutrition care, 2) barriers to nutrition education, 3) nutrition knowledge, and 4) nutrition-related skills. Students perceive that doctors are well-placed to provide some level of nutrition care, but poor translation of nutrition knowledge to clinical contexts is a key limitation in nutrition education. In summary, nutrition education may be insufficient to support the nutrition-related competency development of the undergraduate and postgraduate student participants in this study. Focusing on the integration of these skills into the curriculum may be a priority.



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