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20 Mapping nutrition education embedded within medical curricula in Australia and New Zealand: a cross-sectional quantitative study
  1. Ryan King1,
  2. Claire Palermo2 and
  3. Alyce Wilson3
  1. 1Department of Medical Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Department of Nutrition, Monash University, Australia
  3. 3Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia


Background Globally, one in five deaths are attributable to suboptimal diet. Doctors are well-positioned to address nutrition issues, however, often lack the knowledge and skills to do so. Nutrition in medical curricula is widely insufficient, resulting in an evidence-practice gap between nutrition knowledge and competency to provide effective nutrition care. In Australia and New Zealand, medical curricula are accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). Throughout the AMC Standards there is no single competency related to nutrition, rather the onus is on individual medical schools to include nutrition education and teaching in their curricula.

Objectives We aimed to systematically map nutrition education in medical curricula across all 23 medical schools accredited by the AMC in Australia and New Zealand

Methods We reviewed available learning objectives for 20 of the 23 AMC accredited medical schools in Australia and New Zealand between February to June 2021. Current learning objectives for each course were extracted. We reviewed all objectives and identified Nutrition Relevant Learning Objectives (NRLOs), or equivalent Learning Outcomes/Graduate Attributes. An adaption of Deakin University’s Extended Nutrition Competency Framework was used to determine keywords in classifying a learning objective as nutrition relevant. NRLOs were analyzed according to Bloom’s revised taxonomy to determine which level objectives met within Cognitive (Knowledge), Psychomotor (Action), or Affective (Emotive) domains.

Results 11 (55%) of 20 medical schools contained NRLOs in their curricula. One curriculum comprised 129 (69.4%) of all NRLOs, while nine curricula contained none. Learning objectives were unavailable for three medical schools. The majority of NRLOs (181, 97.3%) were in the Cognitive domain of Bloom’s revised taxonomy, predominantly at level three ‘applying’ (90, 49.7%). When comparing clinical and pre-clinical years across curricula, the proportion of NRLOs in the Psychomotor domain was 3.5-fold higher in clinical years (4, 4.1%) versus pre-clinical years (1, 1.2%). No curricula contained any NRLOs in the Affective domain.

Conclusion There is wide variation across medical curricula regarding the amount of NRLOs. New Zealand medical curricula were more likely to include NRLOs than Australian curricula, although only two medical schools were New Zealand based. This may lead to varying competency of medical graduates to provide nutrition care in Australia and New Zealand.

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