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BMC Med Educ. 2011 Aug 12;11:58. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-11-58.

Nutrition attitudes and knowledge in medical students after completion of an integrated nutrition curriculum compared to a dedicated nutrition curriculum: a quasi-experimental study.

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  • 1Boston Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Nutrition education has presented an ongoing challenge to medical educators. In the 2007-2008 academic year, Harvard Medical School replaced its dedicated Preventive Medicine and Nutrition course with an integrated curriculum. The objective of the current study was to assess the effect of the curriculum change on medical student attitudes and knowledge about nutrition.


A survey was administered in a quasi-experimental design to students in the last class of the dedicated curriculum (n = 131) and the first class of the integrated curriculum (n = 135) two years after each class completed the required nutrition course. Main measures were attitude scores based on modified Nutrition in Patient care Survey and satisfaction ratings, performance on a nutrition knowledge test, and demographic variables. Two-tailed t-tests were performed.


Response rates were 50.4% and 42.2%. There were no differences between the groups in attitude scores from the Nutrition in Patient care Survey (p = 0.43) or knowledge scores (p = 0.63). Students with the integrated curriculum were less satisfied with both the quantity (p < 0.0001) and quality (p = 0.008) of their nutrition education, and were more likely to have completed optional online nutrition training modules (p = 0.0089).


Medical student attitudes and knowledge about nutrition were not affected by the model of nutrition education they receive, though students in an integrated curriculum may feel their education is inadequate and seek additional training.

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