To undertake a survey to investigate the quality and format of nutrition health promotion in UK primary care. Data from both primary care practitioners – i.e. level of nutritional knowledge and attitude towards nutrition interventions – and patients – i.e. the format and quality of dietary consultations – are presented.
A self-completion questionnaire was used to assess nutritional knowledge and attitude of primary care staff towards nutrition interventions. Data regarding the format and quality of the dietary consultation were collected from patients using a screening question and follow-up questionnaire.
Twelve general practices in a city in north-east England.
One hundred and nine primary care staff, and 2400 consecutive patients recruited from the 12 practices.
Seventy-seven per cent of primary care staff completed the questionnaire. Sixty-five per cent of the knowledge questions were answered correctly by most practitioners. Questions containing complex nutritional terminology were answered poorly. Most practitioners believed primary care teams have an essential role in giving dietary advice. Thirteen per cent of patients reported that they had discussed diet. Of these, 40% were asked to make dietary changes; 20% discussed how they cooked or prepared food; and 33% were asked to make a follow-up appointment.
Encouraging signs included good levels of nutritional knowledge and belief amongst staff that they should be involved in nutrition interventions. Patients reported that they understood and felt able to achieve the dietary changes suggested. Less encouraging were little evidence of discussion about the practical aspects of food and fairly low rates of follow-up being arranged.