Medical students’ perceptions and confidence in their ability to apply nutrition principles in clinical practice

Kirsty Lennon, Fiona Muir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Due to the rising rates of malnutrition, which can adversely affect health, doctors must be competent in addressing nutrition concerns in practice. This study explored medical students’ perceptions and confidence in applying nutrition principles in practice: nutrition assessment, patient counselling, and interventions.

Methods: A small scale exploratory case study was conducted using semi-structured interviews with eight undergraduate medical students. An inductive thematic analysis was carried out. Documentary analysis was completed using policy and Medical School curriculum documents to review nutrition-related text in terms of the learning outcomes for nutrition education.

Results: The findings highlight aspects which influenced students’ nutrition practice for patient assessment and intervention: students’ experience of nutrition both in education and practice, roles, importance of nutrition, concerns regarding application, barriers, and nutrition theme teaching. Documentary analysis results showed that the General Medical Council (GMC) and Dundee Medical School curriculum addressed higher level learning outcomes but students felt they were not achieving them.

Conclusions: This study identifies factors which contribute to students’ confidence in applying nutrition principles in practice with particular emphasis on nutrition curriculum and managing nutrition concerns in practice. It offers suggestion for curriculum review and development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number211
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021


  • nutrition
  • medical education
  • medicine
  • undergraduate


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