A qualitative evaluation of an Australian public health nutrition workforce development intervention involving mentoring circles

Public Health Nutr. 2011 Aug;14(8):1458-65. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010002491. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


Objective: To evaluate a mentoring circle workforce development intervention among a group of public health nutrition novices.

Design: The mentoring circle intervention focused on facilitating practice-based public health nutrition competence development and supporting reorientation of practice from clinical services to preventive services. A retrospective post-intervention qualitative semi-structured interview was used to explore the experiences of those participating in the mentoring circle and to make evaluative judgements about intervention attributes and effectiveness.

Setting: Victoria, Australia.

Subjects: Thirty-two novice public health nutrition practitioners employed in the state public health system.

Results: Key evaluative theme categories relating to the mentoring circle intervention were identified, including the structure and function of the group, the utility of using advanced-level competency items to guide planning, having a safe and supportive environment for learning and the utility of learning via mentoring and on-the-job experiences. These qualitative evaluation data identify the attributes of the mentoring circle intervention contributing to intervention effectiveness.

Conclusions: This qualitative evaluation indicates that mentoring circles can be an effective workforce capacity-building intervention, particularly in novice workforces characterised by professional isolation and split function roles.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mentors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Peer Group*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Public Health Practice
  • Victoria
  • Workplace