Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Medicine


Over recent decades healthcare has shifted towards patient-centred care as a result of the numerous benefits this approach has shown. Within dietetics, part of practising in a patient-centred way requires the development of a ‘positive’ relationship between client and dietitian. Governing documents depict this relationship as a fundamental aspect of clinical dietetic practice, however little is known about how this ‘positive’ relationship is developed and maintained in clinical practice and what education and training dietitians receive in this aspect of practice. Consistent findings from psychotherapy research show that the quality of the relationship between a client and therapist (described as a ‘therapeutic relationship’) has a modest positive effect on the client’s health outcomes. Hence understanding more about the therapeutic relationship between clients and dietitians may assist the profession to understand more about how the therapeutic relationship ‘works’ in clinical dietetic practice. Focusing on understanding this therapeutic relationship will contribute to strengthening dietetic practice in patient-centred delivery and potentially assist in supporting their clients to achieve improved positive health outcomes. The overarching aim of this thesis was to investigate the phenomenon of the therapeutic relationship between client and dietitian.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.