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J Prim Health Care. 2014 Jun 1;6(2):143-7.

Direct observation of the nutrition care practices of Australian general practitioners.

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School of Public Health and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Queensland 4222, Australia.
School of Public Health and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.
Griffith Health Institute, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.
School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.



Nutrition care refers to nutrition-related advice or counselling provided by health professionals in an attempt to improve the nutrition behaviour of patients.


The aim of this study was to describe the practices of a sample of Australian general practitioners (GPs) when providing nutrition care to adult patients.


Eighteen GPs (13 male, 5 female) were observed by fourth-year medical students during their general practice rotation. Each GP was observed for five consultations that included nutrition care, totalling 90 observed consultations. In each consultation, students completed a 31-item nutrition care checklist of nutrition care practices that could feasibly occur in a standard consultation. Each practice was marked with either a 'yes' (completed), 'no' (did not complete) or 'completed by practice nurse prior to or after the consultation'.


Twenty-eight nutrition care practices were observed at least once. The most frequently observed practices were measuring and discussing blood pressure (76.7%; n=69), followed by general questions about current diet (74.4%; n=67). Approximately half of the consultations included a statement of a nutrition-related problem (52.2%; n=47), and the provision of nutrition advice that focused on a nutrient (45.6%; n=41) or food group (52.2%; n=47). Consultations with male GPs, as well as GPs with more than 25 years of experience, were associated with an increased number of nutrition care practices per consultation.


The GPs performed nutrition care practices in varying frequencies. Further research is required to identify the most effective GP nutrition care practices to improve the nutrition behaviour of patients.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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