Title

Healthcare professionals' perspectives on the role of dietitians within multidisciplinary head and neck cancer teams: A qualitative multi-site study

Publication Name

Nutrition and Dietetics

Abstract

Aim: Evidence-based guidelines provide recommendations on how dietitians should work with patients with head and neck cancer for best outcomes. Research with healthcare professionals from head and neck cancer teams would provide insight into how these recommendations are implemented in practice. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore how the role of the dietitian is perceived and enacted in different head and neck cancer teams from the perspective of healthcare professionals. Methods: This qualitative study recruited radiation oncologists, nurses, dietitians and speech pathologists from four different head and neck cancer teams in Australia and the United States. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and analysed using a grounded-theory approach. Results: Seventeen radiation oncologists, 12 nurses, 11 dietitians and six speech pathologists participated. Perceptions on the role of dietitians were summarised by the category: “Providing expertise in nutritional care: A core role in head and neck cancer.” Five categories summarised perceptions of factors that can influence how the role of the dietitian is enacted in practice: “having experience in head and neck cancer”; “initiating nutritional care plans and the role of doctors and nurses”; “clinic structuring”; “an evolving culture in healthcare services” and “the presence of evidence-based guidelines.”. Conclusions: While dietitians can be perceived to be the experts in nutritional care, several factors influence how their role is enacted in head and neck cancer teams. Further research on patient nutritional outcomes and on clinic structures that best use dietetic expertise is required to strengthen recommendations on how dietitians should work with head and neck cancer patients internationally.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Volume

78

Issue

5

First Page

506

Last Page

515

Share

COinS
 

Link to publisher version (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1747-0080.12664