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J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):287-98.

What do resident physicians know about nutrition? An evaluation of attitudes, self-perceived proficiency and knowledge.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Primary Care, Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.



Despite the increased emphasis on obesity and diet-related diseases, nutrition education remains lacking in many internal medicine training programs. We evaluated the attitudes, self-perceived proficiency, and knowledge related to clinical nutrition among a cohort of internal medicine interns.


Nutrition attitudes and self-perceived proficiency were measured using previously validated questionnaires. Knowledge was assessed with a multiple-choice quiz. Subjects were asked whether they had prior nutrition training.


Of the 114 participants, 61 (54%) completed the survey. Although 77% agreed that nutrition assessment should be included in routine primary care visits, and 94% agreed that it was their obligation to discuss nutrition with patients, only 14% felt physicians were adequately trained to provide nutrition counseling. There was no correlation among attitudes, self-perceived proficiency, or knowledge. Interns previously exposed to nutrition education reported more negative attitudes toward physician self-efficacy (p = 0.03).


Internal medicine interns' perceive nutrition counseling as a priority, but lack the confidence and knowledge to effectively provide adequate nutrition education.

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