What do resident physicians know about nutrition? An evaluation of attitudes, self-perceived proficiency and knowledge

J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):287-98. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2008.10719702.


Objective: Despite the increased emphasis on obesity and diet-related diseases, nutrition education remains lacking in many internal medicine training programs. We evaluated the attitudes, self-perceived proficiency, and knowledge related to clinical nutrition among a cohort of internal medicine interns.

Methods: Nutrition attitudes and self-perceived proficiency were measured using previously validated questionnaires. Knowledge was assessed with a multiple-choice quiz. Subjects were asked whether they had prior nutrition training.

Results: Of the 114 participants, 61 (54%) completed the survey. Although 77% agreed that nutrition assessment should be included in routine primary care visits, and 94% agreed that it was their obligation to discuss nutrition with patients, only 14% felt physicians were adequately trained to provide nutrition counseling. There was no correlation among attitudes, self-perceived proficiency, or knowledge. Interns previously exposed to nutrition education reported more negative attitudes toward physician self-efficacy (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Internal medicine interns' perceive nutrition counseling as a priority, but lack the confidence and knowledge to effectively provide adequate nutrition education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Physicians
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires