Medical students' perceptions regarding the importance of nutritional knowledge and their confidence in providing competent nutrition practice

Perlstein, R., McCoombe, S., Shaw, C. and Nowson, C. 2016, Medical students' perceptions regarding the importance of nutritional knowledge and their confidence in providing competent nutrition practice, Public health, vol. 140, pp. 27-34, doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2016.08.019.

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Title Medical students' perceptions regarding the importance of nutritional knowledge and their confidence in providing competent nutrition practice
Author(s) Perlstein, R.
McCoombe, S.ORCID iD for McCoombe, S.
Shaw, C.ORCID iD for Shaw, C.
Nowson, C.ORCID iD for Nowson, C.
Journal name Public health
Volume number 140
Start page 27
End page 34
Total pages 8
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2016-11
ISSN 1476-5616
Keyword(s) Australia
Medical students
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Summary OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to examine the perceived importance, knowledge and confidence in nutritional management in a sample of Australian medical students undertaking a 4-year postgraduate medical degree.

STUDY DESIGN/METHODS: In 2015, students in years 1-4 were anonymously surveyed to assess students' perceived importance of nutrition, and knowledge and confidence in nutritional management.

RESULTS: A total of 131 first and second year (preclinical/yr 1-2) medical students (46% response rate) and 66 third and fourth year (clinical/yr 3-4) students (24% response rate) completed the questionnaire. Most preclinical students agreed that medical graduates should understand nutritional issues in managing cardiovascular disease (99%), type 2 diabetes (93%), coeliac disease (95%), and renal impairment (97%). However, students were limited in their confidence to demonstrate this knowledge (range of confidence: 26%-41%) for individual medical conditions. This improved for students in the clinical context of years 3 and 4, although it was still not optimal (range 26%-81%). Few year 3 and 4 students reported confidence in knowledge related to medicolegal issues, respiratory disease, nutritional guidelines and nutrition assessment (all <40%). However the majority (>80%) reported confidence in the dietary management of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and coeliac disease and >60% indicated they would refer onto nutrition professionals.

CONCLUSIONS: This cohort of postgraduate medical students recognize the importance of nutrition in disease. The number of students reporting increased confidence in nutritional management of a few select diseases where dietary management is one of the cornerstones of treatment (e.g. type 2 diabetes) rises throughout the course. However, students reported lower levels of knowledge in diseases where diet is secondary to other treatments and preventative strategies (e.g. respiratory disease). Filling the gap by integrating the nutritional management into the range of common chronic diseases during training has the potential to positively impact on patient health outcomes.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.puhe.2016.08.019
Field of Research 130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy
1117 Public Health And Health Services
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Royal Society for Public Health
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences
School of Medicine
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