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Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Sep;84(3):655-62.

Predictors of nutrition counseling behaviors and attitudes in US medical students.

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  • 1School of Medicine and the School of Public Health, Biostatistics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Nutrition counseling by physicians can improve patients' dietary behaviors and is affected by physicians' nutrition practices and attitudes, such as the perceived relevance of nutrition counseling.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective was to provide data on medical students' perceived relevance of nutrition counseling, reported frequency of nutrition counseling, and frequency of fruit and vegetable intakes.

DESIGN:

Students (n = 2316) at 16 US medical schools were surveyed and tracked at freshmen orientation, at the time of orientation to wards, and in their senior year.

RESULTS:

Freshmen students were more likely (72%) to find nutrition counseling highly relevant than were students at the time of ward orientation (61%) or during their senior year (46%; P for trend = 0.0003). Those intending to subspecialize had lower and declining perceptions of counseling relevance (P for trend = 0.0009), whereas the perceived relevance of counseling by primary care specialists remained high (P for trend = 0.5). Students were significantly more likely to find nutrition counseling highly relevant if they were female, consumed more fruit and vegetables, believed in primary prevention, had personal physicians who encouraged disease prevention, or intended to specialize in primary care. Only 19% of students believed that they had been extensively trained in nutrition counseling, and 17% of seniors reported that they frequently counseled their patients about nutrition. Students who consumed more fruit and vegetables, believed that they would be more credible if they ate a healthy diet, were not Asian or white, or intended to specialize in primary care counseled patients about nutrition more frequently. Medical students consumed an average of 3.0 fruit and vegetable servings/d, which declined over time.

CONCLUSIONS:

The perceived relevance of nutrition counseling by US medical students declined throughout medical school, and students infrequently counseled their patients about nutrition. Interventions may be warranted to improve the professional nutritional practices of medical students.

PMID:
16960182
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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