Purpose: The ever-increasing burden of obesity as a high risk factor for nutrition-related diseases, together with health professionals’ lack of competencies in nutrition, has left health professional students needing further education to offer nutrition advising to patients. The purpose of this review was to summarize the current literature related to nutrition education in health professional programs.
Method: This literature review was conducted using eight scientific literature databases: PubMed, CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete, Directory of Open Access Journals, Professional Development Collection, Complementary Index, and Google Scholar. Articles published in English from January 2007 through January 2018 were reviewed. Keywords and terms from the Medical Subject Headings [MeSH] thesaurus were used to create combinations of keywords. Of 128 articles that resulted from this search, 55 were chosen for the review.
Results: The findings revealed deficiencies in nutrition competency among health professional students. Students reported lacking adequate nutrition knowledge, basic counseling skills, and confidence to offer nutrition advice to patients. Lack of nutrition knowledge and counseling skills was inversely linked to profession-specific nutrition competencies that could lead to improved patient outcomes. Limitations of nutrition education across several programs were also unveiled. Nutrition interventions enhanced the achievement of Interprofessional Education Collaborative competencies, appreciation of one another’s roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication skills, and teamwork. The findings suggested that improving students’ nutrition knowledge may result in improved patient outcomes.
Conclusions: Nutrition was viewed as a unifying topic-of-interest across health professional programs that increased students’ knowledge and efficacy in providing basic nutrition counseling. Interprofessional nutrition education was regarded as a strategy to surmount the existing limitations of nutrition education and train students to tackle nutrition-related risk factors and prevent nutrition-related diseases.
Acknowledgement Th author wishes to thank Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili of Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) for her guidance and support in researching and writing this manuscript.
Livne N. Need for Nutrition Education in Health Professional Programs: A Review of the Literature. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2018 Dec 14;17(1), Article 5.