Nutrition in general practice: role and workforce preparation expectations of medical educators

Aust J Prim Health. 2010;16(4):304-10. doi: 10.1071/PY10014.


Nutrition advice from general practitioners (GPs) is held in high regard by the general public, yet the literature investigating the role of GPs in the provision of nutrition care is limited. This qualitative study aimed to explore the perceptions of general practice medical educators (GPMEs) regarding the role of GPs in general practice nutrition care, the competencies required by GPs to provide effective nutrition care and the learning and teaching strategies best suited to develop these competencies. Twenty medical educators from fourteen Australian and New Zealand universities participated in an individual semi-structured telephone interview, guided by an inquiry logic informed by the literature. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. Medical educators identified that nutrition was an important but mostly superficially addressed component of health care in general practice. Numerous barriers to providing nutrition care in general practice were identified. These include a lack of time and associated financial disincentives, perceptions of inadequate skills in nutrition counselling associated with inadequate training, ambiguous attitudes and differing perceptions about the role of GPs in the provision of nutrition care. Further research is required to identify strategies to improve nutrition care and referral practices provided in the general practice setting, in order to utilise the prime position of GPs as gatekeepers of integrated care to the general public.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • General Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narration
  • New Zealand
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*