Empowering learners to provide dietary counselling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite calls to increase dietary counselling by physicians to help address the epidemic of lifestyle-related chronic disease, medical education does not equip future physicians with the training to provide effective dietary counselling. In addition to the multiple barriers that clinician educators face in implementing clinically relevant nutrition education curricula, evaluation modalities in the nutrition education literature that assess student skills and behaviour remain limited. Approach: We implemented a brief, virtual nutrition education intervention in a US medical school during the outpatient clinical clerkship and assessed how our curriculum influenced students' development of dietary counselling skills. Evaluation: Student feedback revealed appreciation for learning how to approach conversations about diet in a non-judgmental manner and specific strategies to use during counselling. We thematically analysed the free-text responses from 81 dietary counselling encounter forms submitted by students. Three emergent themes reflected the key dietary counselling skills students demonstrated during patient encounters: (1) eliciting drivers of current eating patterns and barriers to healthier eating patterns, (2) individualising recommendations and (3) recommending evidence-based strategies. Implications: After receiving brief, clinically relevant, virtual nutrition education, students were able to successfully apply dietary counselling skills to patient care. In conjunction with indirect skill assessment through targeted documentation, we offer a sustainable approach for feasible nutrition education paired with meaningful evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Teacher
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Review and Exam Preparation


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