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J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Jan;99(1):72-6.

How to make nutrition education more meaningful through facilitated group discussions.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.


Facilitated group discussions provide an alternative method to lecture and one-on-one approaches for conducting educational interventions at clinic sites. They are an interactive form of education wherein learners generate the specific topics to be addressed and share their knowledge and experience with other group members through discussion. In brief, the educator becomes a facilitator who, rather than lecturing, encourages clients to discuss freely among themselves their own approach to the nutrition problems posed during the session. As a facilitator, the nutritionist strives to create a comfortable atmosphere for discussion, encourages participation, and interjects only to correct misinformation and manage group dynamics. Facilitated group discussions allow nutrition practitioners to deliver meaningful nutrition education in a manner that helps empower their clients to improve their dietary habits; at the same time such discussions meet the increased public administrative demands for efficiency. Possible benefits to clients include more confidence, better communication skills, improved thinking skills, and increased motivation and commitment to improving nutrition behavior. We recommend that nutrition educators try facilitated group discussions in their clinics.

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