DIETITIANS AS MEMBERS OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE TEAMS IN SASKATCHEWAN
Nutrition is a major lifestyle factor in health promotion, prevention and treatment of several population health issues. For this reason, dietitians are integral to primary health care. Several commentators have noted the need to explicitly define roles and responsibility of health care providers as one strategy to improve collaborative health care practice. The purpose of this study was to explore dietitians’ perceptions of their roles as members of primary health care (PHC) teams in Saskatchewan. Multiple techniques were used to recruit dietitians who were members of the Saskatchewan Dietitians Association (SDA) and members of PHC team(s). These include advertisements in the SDA’s newsletter, solicitations from directors of PHC and snowballing. Fifteen dietitians, differing in geographical location, years of experience, level of expertise and types of PHC settings participated in in-depth interviews via telephone or face-to-face. Qualitative analysis of the interview revealed that the participants belonged to two types of teams: program teams as the name suggests, offered specialized programs to specific target populations and generalized teams sought to address the needs of the general community. All participants mentioned that they were core members of their team(s). However, a few of these participants also described themselves as peripheral members of program teams. The themes which emerged from the participants’ perception of their roles were labelled nutrition support and beyond support- describing the range of activities that the participants engaged in as members of their teams. The depth and breadth of the participants’ roles were related to their years of experience, level of expertise, location of practice –rural and urban, or type of teams. To effectively function as team members’, participants indicated that they need opportunities for networking and continuing education. Most participants shared the view that dietitians are valuable to PHC teams but they were underrepresented. Marketing the roles of dietitians was suggested as a means to enhance their roles on PHC teams by most participants. The study suggests that dietitians are responding to the complex health care environment by expanding their roles to meet the community’s needs. Hence, they play a key role in the new paradigm of health care.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentPharmacy and Nutrition
CommitteeBerenbaum, Shawna; Dobson, Roy; Whiting, Susan; Zello, Gordon
Copyright DateSeptember 2012
primary health care team, dietitian, interprofessional collaboration