Insufficient nutritional knowledge among health care workers?

Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2007.10.014. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Background & aims: Though a great interest and willingness to nutrition therapy, there is an insufficient practice compared to the proposed ESPEN guidelines for nutrition therapy. The aim of this questionnaire was to study doctors and nurses' self-reported knowledge in nutritional practice, with focus on ESPEN's guidelines in nutritional screening, assessment and treatment.

Methods: A questionnaire about different aspects of nutritional practice was answered by 4512 doctors and nurses in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Results: The most common cause for insufficient nutritional practice was lack of nutritional knowledge. Twenty-five percent found it difficult to identify patient in need of nutritional therapy, 39% lacked techniques for identifying malnourished patients, and 53% found it difficult to calculate the patients' energy requirement and 66% lacked national guidelines for clinical nutrition. Twenty-eight percent answered that insufficient nutrition practice could lead to complications and prolonged hospital stay. Those that answered that their nutritional knowledge was good had also a better nutritional practice.

Conclusion: The self-reported nutritional knowledge was inadequate among Scandinavian doctors and nurses. Increased nutritional knowledge seems to improve the nutritional practice. A combination of an integrated nutrition curriculum during the education, together with post-graduated education for both physicians and nurses should be established.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Mass Screening
  • Norway
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Nutritional Sciences / standards
  • Nutritional Support / psychology
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden