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Genes Nutr. 2013 Nov;8(6):523-33. doi: 10.1007/s12263-013-0351-9. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

The application of genetics and nutritional genomics in practice: an international survey of knowledge, involvement and confidence among dietitians in the US, Australia and the UK.

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1
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash University, Level 1 264 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, VIC, 3168, Australia.

Abstract

As a result of expanding scientific understanding of the interplay between genetics and dietary risk factors, those involved in nutritional management need to understand genetics and nutritional genomics in order to inform management of individuals and groups. The aim of this study was to measure and determine factors affecting dietitians' knowledge, involvement and confidence in genetics and nutritional genomics across the US, Australia and the UK. A cross-sectional study was undertaken using an online questionnaire that measured knowledge and current involvement and confidence in genetics and nutritional genomics. The questionnaire was distributed to dietitians in the US, Australia and the UK using email lists from the relevant professional associations. Data were collected from 1,844 dietitians who had practiced in the previous 6 months. The main outcomes were knowledge of genetics and nutritional genomics and involvement and confidence in undertaking clinical and educational activities related to genetics and nutritional genomics. Mean scores for knowledge, involvement and confidence were calculated. Analysis of variance and χ (2) analysis were used to compare scores and frequencies. Multivariate linear regression was used to determine predictors of high scores. The results demonstrated significant differences in involvement (p < 0.001) and confidence (p < 0.001) but not knowledge scores (p = 0.119) between countries. Overall, dietitians reported low levels of knowledge (mean knowledge score 56.3 %), involvement (mean number of activities undertaken 20.0-22.7 %) and confidence (mean confidence score 25.8-29.7 %). Significant relationships between confidence, involvement and knowledge were observed. Variables relating to education, experience, sector of employment and attitudes were also significantly associated with knowledge, involvement and confidence. Dietitians' knowledge, involvement and confidence relating to genetics and nutritional genomics remain low and further investigation into factors contributing to this is required.

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