ATTITUDES, WORK ROLES AND BARRIERS TO NUTRITION CARE – INTERVIEWS WITH AUSTRALIAN AND UK-BASED MEDICAL DOCTORS
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Background: Poor diet is implicated in multiple chronic diseases. Although doctors may be well placed to facilitate nutrition care, nutrition remains a low priority in medical education internationally. Consensus is required on nutrition competencies as a benchmark for education with a regulatory framework to ensure implementation. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore work roles, attitudes, barriers and enablers in the delivery of nutrition care among a cohort of Australian and UK doctors. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with primary care doctors/general practitioners (n = 14) and medical specialists (n = 8) based in Australia and the United Kingdom to explore work roles, attitudes, barriers and enablers in the delivery of nutrition care. Results: Framework analysis identified five key themes: (1) knowledge and skills in nutrition to support medical nutrition care, (2) the delivery of nutrition education, (3) multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary care, (4) systemic barriers and facilitators to care and (5) the need for a paradigm shift. Participants acknowledged nutrition as an important component of medical care but recognised they are currently ill-equipped to support such care, identifying limitations to the systems supporting integrated care. Participants identified that nutrition sits within both a health promotion and medical/treatment model, but they currently work only within the latter. Conclusion: Participants highlighted a lack of knowledge and training regarding nutrition, without which change is not possible. Efforts to improve the nutrition capacity of the medical workforce must be matched by increased investments in primary prevention, including nutrition – a paradigm shift from the medical model.
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