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The folic acid message – can training make a difference?

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Aim: To evaluate the effectiveness of training sessions for health professionals concerning folic acid in pregnancy.

Methods: Training sessions were held for Community Health Professionals to disseminate the current Department of Health recommendations about folic acid. The professions targeted were those who were more likely to come into contact with women of child-bearing age, e.g. midwives, health visitors, practice nurses and family planning staff. Altogether 24 1-h training sessions were held reaching 189 staff. Each session consisted of factual information, a brainstorming session about what pregnant women eat and a nutrition game involving calculating a day's intake of folic acid. Questionnaires were used to evaluate the level of knowledge before and after training. Feedback about the sessions was also obtained from participants.

Results: With every group trained there was an improvement in knowledge. The greatest change was that staff realized how difficult it is to consume the recommended amount of folic acid from food alone. Before the training session 42% of the health professionals thought that women could eat enough folic acid and after the training this had fallen to just 1%.

Conclusion: The training sessions produced positive changes. In addition, the process of evaluation, which is increasingly recognized as important for dietitians, was found to be rewarding.

Keywords: Community Health Professionals; evaluation; folic acid; nutrition education

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Dietetic Department, St Luke's Hospital, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, UK

Publication date: August 1, 1999


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