Impact of an Online Nutrition Course to Address a Gap in Medical Education: A Feasibility Study

Kate Shafto, Anuj Shah, Jacob Smith, Qi Wang, Stephen Devries, Mary Jo Kreitzer, Frances Baxley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and Objectives: Nutrition is a foundation of health, yet there is a deficiency of nutrition training in graduate medical education. The purpose of this feasibility study was to assess the impact of a brief online clinical nutrition course on medical residents' knowledge and attitudes related to the role of nutrition in clinical practice.

Methods: Medical residents from two institutions took a 3-hour, online, self-paced and interactive clinical nutrition course that reviewed macronutrients, evidence-based dietary patterns, a rapid nutrition assessment, and motivational interviewing. We administered surveys of nutrition knowledge and attitudes at three time points: (1) just prior to taking the online course, (2) immediately following, and (3) 3 months after course completion.

Results: Seventy-six residents enrolled in the study and 47 (62%) completed the online course and postcourse surveys. For residents who completed the study, the summated nutrition knowledge scores assessed both immediately after taking the course and 3 months later showed significant improvement (P<.001). Three months after completing the course, residents were more likely to believe it was their role to personally provide detailed nutrition information to patients (P=.045) and to endorse the view that a healthy diet is important for self-care (P<.001). The estimated time residents spent counseling patients on nutrition did not change after the intervention.

Conclusion: This feasibility study demonstrated the potential of a 3-hour, online, self-paced nutrition course administered to medical residents to result in a significant and sustained increase in nutrition knowledge and positive attitudes about the role of nutrition in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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