BACKGROUND: According to the Council of Europe, clinical dietitians should assume a more central role in nutritional support. The aim of this study was to assess the opinions among doctors, nurses and clinical dietitians regarding the use of clinical dietitians' expertise in the hospital units and, further, to assess whether the presence of clinical dietitians in hospital departments influenced doctors and nurses focus on clinical nutrition.
METHODS: A questionnaire about the use of clinical nutrition was mailed to 6000 doctors and 6000 nurses working in hospital units where undernutrition is documented to be common, as well as to 678 clinical dietitians working in Scandinavian hospitals.
RESULTS: The response rate of clinical dietitians, nurses and doctors were 53%, 46% and 29%, respectively. Nurses and doctors who saw clinical dietitians often found it less difficult to identify undernourished patients and found that insight into the importance of adequate nutrition was better than those who saw clinical dietitians seldom. Clinical nutrition had a higher priority in units with frequent visits by clinical dietitians.
CONCLUSIONS: The present study shows that doctors and nurses on wards with greater access to clinical dietitians had better focus on clinical nutrition.
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