How much do gastroenterology fellows know about nutrition?

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2009 Jul;43(6):559-64. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e318172d647.


Background: Many people are afflicted with chronic diseases, in which nutrition plays a key role. The need for greater nutrition training among physicians, particularly gastroenterologists, is becoming increasingly evident.

Objectives: To determine the nutritional knowledge and perceived nutrition knowledge of gastroenterology fellows.

Methods: Thirty-two gastrointestinal (GI) fellows currently enrolled in a GI fellowship program completed a needs assessment evaluating perceived nutrition knowledge and interest in the areas of nutrition support, assessment, obesity, micro/macronutrients, and nutrition in GI diseases. Additionally, an examination evaluating nutrition knowledge specific to gastroenterology fellows was administered.

Results: Thirty-two GI fellows completed the needs assessment. Cronbach alpha of the needs assessment instrument was 0.72, indicating satisfactory internal consistency reliability. GI fellows perceived themselves to have the least knowledge in obesity and micro/macronutrients. They indicated a perceived greater knowledge base in nutrition assessment. The mean total test score was 50.04% (SD=7.84%). Fellows had the highest score in the subscale of nutrition assessment (80.64%; SD=19.05%), which was significantly higher than scores obtained in nutrition support (49.45%; SD=11.98%; P<0.05), micro/macronutrients (37.84%; SD=16.94%; P<0.05), obesity (40.11%; SD=20.00%; P<0.05), and nutrition in GI diseases (65.05%; SD=22.09%; P<0.05). A backward linear regression including hours of nutrition education received during GI fellowship, hours of nutrition education received during medical school, and year of GI fellowship accounted for 22.7% of the variance in test performance (multiple R=0.477).

Conclusions: Gastroenterology fellows think their knowledge of nutrition is suboptimal; objective evaluation of nutrition knowledge in this cohort confirmed this belief. A formal component of nutrition education could be developed in the context of GI fellowship education and continuing medical education as necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / methods*
  • Female
  • Gastroenterology / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Surveys and Questionnaires