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J Prim Health Care. 2015 Dec 1;7(4):324-32.

The contribution of dietitians to the primary health care workforce.

Author information

Dietitians New Zealand, National Office, Wellington, New Zealand.
Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, PB 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.



Dietetic intervention is effective in the management of nutrition-related conditions and their comorbidities. New Zealand has an increasing need for primary and preventive health care to reduce the burden of non-communicable disease.


To review the recent evidence of effectiveness of dietetic intervention in primary health care on health and wider economic outcomes. Health benefits and cost benefits of employing dietitians to perform nutrition intervention in the primary health care setting are evaluated in the areas of obesity in conjunction with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and malnutrition in older adults.


An electronic literature search of four scientific databases, websites of major dietetic associations and high-impact nutrition and dietetic journals was conducted. Randomised controlled trials and non-randomised studies conducted from 2000 to 2014 were included.


Dietetic intervention demonstrates statistically and clinically significant impacts on health outcomes in the areas of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and malnutrition in older adults, when compared to usual care. Dietitians working in primary health care can also have significant economic benefits, potentially saving the health care system NZ$5.50-$99 for every NZ$1 spent on dietetic intervention.


New Zealand must look to new models of health care provision that are not only patient-centred but are also cost-effective. This review demonstrates that dietitians in primary health care can improve patients' health and quality of life. Increasing the number of dietitians working in primary health care has the potential to make quality nutrition care accessible and affordable for more New Zealanders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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