Nutrition advice in primary care: evaluation of practice nurse nutrition training programmes
Primary health care teams (PHCT), including the practice nurse (PN), now have a significant role in health promotion in the UK, which includes the dissemination of advice relating to food and health. However, reports suggest there is a lack of nutritional knowledge among PHCT members and/or problems in communicating dietary advice effectively. Dorset Healthcare Trust employs two full-time primary care dietitians (PCDs). Their remit is to provide training in the field of nutrition to members of the PHCT, primarily PNs, in order to facilitate their role in delivering effective and consistent healthy eating advice. This small research study was designed to evaluate the impact of nutrition training from a primary care dietitian on the attitudes, practice and knowledge of practice nurses. There have been few studies or reports documenting this, which highlighted the need to evaluate the practice nurse training programmes in Dorset. Five practices of varying size were included in the study. Evaluation was undertaken by means of semi-structured interviews with one practice nurse from each practice conducted before and after training. In addition a questionnaire was used as a tool to assess perceived nutrition knowledge and confidence when giving dietary advice. True/false statements and a case history formed part of the questionnaire which was completed both pre- and post-training. Three 1-h training sessions covering the topics of obesity, diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease were planned. They were presented by the primary care dietitian to each practice nurse together with other members of their PHCT over a 3-month period. The primary care dietitian collected feedback on each training session in order to monitor teaching methods and presentation skills. The study suggests that dietitian-led training sessions are well received by PNs and can have an impact on increasing or updating practice nurses» knowledge about diet, particularly where their initial knowledge was low.
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