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To evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the community service programme implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) in South Africa by evaluating community service dietitians’ experiences and challenges during the 2009 community service year.
The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research designs. A national survey was conducted using a questionnaire to illicit information on community service dietitians’ working environments and the challenges they experienced. Furthermore individual interviews were conducted with a purposively selected subsample of community service dietitians to further explore issues that arose in the survey.
Data were collected from community service dietitians in the public health sector in South Africa.
Dietitians completing their community service year in 2009.
Of the 168 community service dietitians placed in 2009, 134 (80 %) participated in the survey, while five community service dietitians in each province (n 45) were interviewed. Overall the community service dietitians were positive about the community service year and reported that it improved their confidence, skills and competencies. However, they experienced challenges related to the orientation programme, supervision/mentoring, resources available, patient referrals and communication.
Despite the overall success of the community service year there are still challenges which the DOH needs to address in order to provide the best nutrition service possible for its patients.
The present study aimed to evaluate the knowledge and practices of public-sector primary-care health professionals and final-year students regarding the role of nutrition, physical activity and smoking cessation (lifestyle modification) in the management of chronic diseases of lifestyle within the public health-care sector.
A comparative cross-sectional descriptive quantitative study was conducted in thirty primary health-care facilities and four tertiary institutions offering medical and/or nursing programmes in Cape Town in the Western Cape Metropole. Stratified random sampling, based on geographical location, was used to select the health facilities while convenience sampling was used to select students at the tertiary institutions. A validated self-administered knowledge test was used to obtain data from the health professionals.
Differential lifestyle modification knowledge exists among both health professionals and students, with less than 10 % achieving the desired scores of 80 % or higher. The majority of health professionals seem to be promoting the theoretical concepts of lifestyle modification but experience difficulty in providing practical advice to patients. Of the health professionals evaluated, doctors appeared to have the best knowledge of lifestyle modification. Lack of time, lack of patient adherence and language barriers were given as the main barriers to providing lifestyle counselling.
The undergraduate curricula of medical and nursing students should include sufficient training on lifestyle modification, particularly practical advice on diet, physical activity and smoking cessation. Health professionals working at primary health-care facilities should be updated by providing lifestyle modification education as part of continuing medical education.
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