Background Nutrition is crucial for promoting both good health and overall life quality, and health professionals play an extremely relevant part in helping patients achieve both. However, research suggests that health professionals’ training often lacks nutrition education. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting clinical and public health nutrition literacy in China amongst health professionals. This pilot study aimed to understand the specific nutrition education requirements of medical doctors and students and assess the effect of online nutrition education through researching the nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and practices of this population.
Methods Eight Chinese health professionals, without nutritional backgrounds, were invited to participate in an 8-hour online course ‘Nutrition, Cardiometabolic Health, and COVID-19’. They completed an online structured Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) questionnaire before and after completing the course. Descriptive statistics were used for participants’ demographic information and Wilcoxon signed-rank test compared KAP scores.
Results Participants included 5 doctors and 3 medical students with a mean age of 25.6±3.4 years. Satisfactory levels of knowledge, attitude and practices for participants were found in 77%, 42.5% and 73%. Knowledge gaps were found in key micronutrients for respiratory tract infection (25%) and nutrients of primary energy source (62.5%). Knowledge scores showed no significant difference before and after the course (p>0.05). Levels of attitudes (p<0.05, pre: 2.13±0.35, post: 3.25±0.89) and practices (p<0.05, pre: 23.88±2.23, post: 26.50± 3.21) towards nutrition education improved after taking the online course.
Conclusions This pilot study suggests that clinical nutrition education in Chinese medical training appears to be insufficient. Most health professionals in this study presented a strong will to learn more about nutrition and reported that they have benefited from the online course. Nutrition Education Leadership from Improved Clinical Outcomes (NELICO) appeared to have helped to make participants more aware of nutrition applications in clinical practice, with scope for improving their nutritional knowledge.
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