Examining the Cultural Competence of Third- and Fourth-Year Nutrition Students: A Pilot Study

Can J Diet Pract Res. 2015 Dec;76(4):178-84. doi: 10.3148/cjdpr-2015-018. Epub 2015 Aug 17.


The purpose of this study was to provide preliminary Canadian research assessing nutrition students' cultural competence and to identify areas for future education initiatives in dietetic education that could ultimately improve dietitians' cultural competence. A mixed-methods study was conducted using a 24-item questionnaire that was administered to students enrolled in third- and fourth-year undergraduate nutrition classes (n = 133). In total, 115 questionnaires were analyzed for quantitative data, and 109 were analyzed for qualitative data. The students scored an overall medium-high level of cultural competence. Out of the 5 areas examined (skills, attitudes, awareness, desires, knowledge), students' multicultural knowledge scores were the lowest. It was found that a lower number of barriers to learning about other cultures were significantly associated with a higher overall cultural competence score, and taking a course in cultural foods significantly increased the students' knowledge and overall cultural competence (P ≤ 0.05). The qualitative data found that students felt the cultural competence curriculum had gaps and identified several ideas for improvement. In conclusion, this research data provides novel insights into the cultural competence of Canadian dietetic students and additionally supports future research and curriculum development to enhance cultural competence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Dietetics / education*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult