Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Integrating dietitians into primary health care: benefits for patients, dietitians and the general practice team

Louise Beckingsale 1 2 , Kirsty Fairbairn 2 3 , Caroline Morris 1
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

1 University of Otago Wellington, Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, New Zealand

2 University of Otago, Department of Human Nutrition, New Zealand

3 Invigorate Nutrition, Dunedin, New Zealand

4 Correspondence to: Louise Beckingsale University of Otago, Department of Human Nutrition, New Zealand louise.beckingsale@otago.ac.nz

Journal of Primary Health Care 8(4) 372-380 https://doi.org/10.1071/HC16018
Published: 3 October 2016

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2016.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Dietetic service delivery in primary health care is an emerging area of dietetic practice in New Zealand.

AIM: This paper aims to describe the dietetic services being delivered in this setting and dietitians’ perceptions of the factors that have an effect on their ability to deliver an optimal service.

METHODS: Individual, qualitative, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 12 primary healthcare dietitians from a range of age, ethnicity and professional backgrounds. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Participants were delivering a range of services including: providing nutrition care directly to patients, helping to upskill other primary health care professionals in nutrition, and delivering health promotion initiatives to their local community. Three key factors were identified that participants perceived as having an effect on their ability to deliver effective dietetic services in primary health care: being part of a multidisciplinary general practice team, having flexible service delivery contracts appropriate for the setting and that supported integration, and having an adequate level of dietetic experience.

DISCUSSION: Dietitians working in primary health care recognise the importance of being well integrated into a multidisciplinary general practice team. This enables them to deliver more collaborative and coordinated nutrition care alongside their colleagues, to benefit patient care. Establishing flexible dietetic service delivery contracts, which support integration and take into account funding and workforce capacity requirements, may help ensure that the unique skill set of a dietitian is utilised to best effect.

KEYWORDS: Dietetic service delivery; dietitians; healthcare management; integration; nutrition; nutrition care; primary health care; general practice


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