Assessing the Need for a Structured Nutrition Curriculum in a Primary Care Residency Program

J Am Coll Nutr. 2020 Mar-Apr;39(3):243-248. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1644251. Epub 2019 Aug 9.


Background: Given the epidemic of diet-related illnesses, medical training regarding nutrition counseling is not fully known. Historically, there is a lack of formalized nutrition training in both medical school and residency programs.Objective: This study surveyed a group of family medicine residents to elicit previous nutrition education and outlook on nutrition counseling. A measure of resident attitudes toward nutrition education and comfort with relaying nutrition education to patients was conducted.Design: A validated, self-administered questionnaire was administered. The survey was composed of 32 questions with yes/no or Likert scale response.Participants and setting: Participants were 30 family medicine residents in the final quarter of their individual postgraduate year of training (PGY1-3). A total of 23 residents electively responded.Results: The majority surveyed conveyed nutrition education in routine care is important in a physician-patient relationship. Except in diabetes, the overwhelming majority reported they were not adequately trained to give nutrition education in specific disease states. The group was not familiar with types of diets, the role of fatty acids, or the impact of specific vitamins on health.Conclusions: The data from this survey indicate a need for formalized nutrition education in primary care training. From the survey data results, the next steps include building a nutrition curriculum to be implemented in the residency program and potentially set a standard for nutrition education in the North Carolina region and beyond.

Keywords: Nutrition curriculum; preventative medicine; primary care; residency training.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Curriculum*
  • Family Practice / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires