Medical students’ perceptions of nutrition education in Canadian universities

Gramlich, Leah M.; Olstad, Dana Lee; Nasser, Roseanne; Goonewardene, Laki; Raman, Maitreyi; Innis, Sheila; Wicklum, Sonja; Duerksen, Donald; Rashid, Mohsin; Heyland, Daren; Armstrong, David; Roy, Claude
June 2010
Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism;Jun2010, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p336
Academic Journal
Patients routinely seek physicians’ guidance about diet and the relation between nutrition and the prevention and treatment of disease. However, the adequacy of nutrition instruction in undergraduate medical education is questionable. The purpose of this study was to investigate Canadian medical students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with their education in nutrition. At 9 universities across Canada, a 23-item survey questionnaire was distributed in English and French to undergraduate medical students after at least 8 months of medical school. Overall, 9 of 17 universities participated in the survey, and 933 of the 3267 medical students approached completed the survey (response rate, 28.6%). Mean satisfaction with nutrition instruction received during medical school was 4.7 (±0.06) on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 10 is very satisfied, and there were significant differences among schools (p < 0.0001). Students were comfortable in their ability to counsel patients regarding basic nutrition concepts and the role of nutrition in prevention of disease, but were much less comfortable discussing the role of nutrition in the treatment of disease and nutrient requirements across the lifecycle, and in identifying credible sources of nutrition information. Of the 933 respondents, 87.2% believe that their undergraduate program should dedicate more time to nutrition education. The amount of nutrition instruction correlated with student satisfaction (p < 0.0001), but varied among schools. A significant number of students are dissatisfied with the nutrition education they receive and their ability to provide relevant and appropriate nutrition counselling. This study paves the way for further discussions and development of strategies to improve nutrition education in medical schools in Canada. Les patients demandent couramment à leur médecin des conseils au sujet de leur régime alimentaire et s’enquièrent auprès de lui sur l’association entre l’alimentation et la prévention ainsi que le traitement de la maladie. Cependant, la formation en nutrition des médecins en cours d’études de 1er cycle est plutôt limitée. Cette étude se propose d’évaluer le degré de perception et de satisfaction des étudiants en médecine au Canada concernant leur formation en nutrition. Un questionnaire anglais-français comprenant 23 items est envoyé à des étudiants de 9 universités au Canada ayant complété au moins 8 mois de formation médicale au 1er cycle d’études. Globalement, des étudiants (933/3267 soit 28,6 %) de 9 universités sur 17 ont rempli le questionnaire. Le degré moyen de satisfaction sur une échelle de 1 à 10 (1 signifiant très insatisfait et 10, très satisfait) est de 4,7 ± 0,06 et les différences entre les universités sont significatives (p < 0,0001). Les étudiants se sentent plus à l’aise pour traiter des concepts de base en matière d’alimentation avec leurs patients et du rôle de l’alimentation dans la prévention des maladies, mais le sont moins pour discuter du rôle de l’alimentation dans le traitement de la maladie, des besoins de nutriments en fonction du mode de vie et pour indiquer les sources crédibles d’information au sujet de l’alimentation. Sur les 933 étudiants qui ont répondu au questionnaire, 87,2 % estiment que leur programme de formation aux études de premier cycle devrait consacrer plus de temps à la formation en nutrition. Chez les étudiants ayant répondu au questionnaire, on observe une relation entre la qualité de la formation en nutrition et le degré de satisfaction (p < 0,0001), mais cette relation varie d’une institution à l’autre. Un nombre significatif d’étudiants se disent insatisfaits au sujet de leur formation en nutrition et de leur aptitude en matière d’alimentation à donner des conseils judicieux et ajustés à la clientèle. Cette étude ouvre la voie à d’autres débats sur le sujet et au développement de stratégies pour améliorer la formation en nutrition dans les institutions de formation médicale au Canada.


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