Virtual nutrition consultation – what can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

This article was originally published here

Public Health Nutr. 2021 Jan 13:1-24. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021000148. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the extent, quality, and challenges of dietetic counseling during the pandemic.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional online 36-item Google Survey. The survey queried demographics and information on usage and perceived telemedicine quality.

SETTING: The survey was distributed to Israeli Dietetic Association (ATID) mailing list between March 31-May 5, 2020.

PARTICIPANTS: Clinical Dietitians, members of ATID, who consented to participated in the survey.

RESULTS: Three hundred dietitians (12% of ATID members; 95% women; mean age 41.4±10.2 years) replied to the survey. Most dietitians reported a significant ˜30% decrease in work-hours due to the pandemic. The most prevalent form of alternative nutrition counseling (ANC) was over the phone (72 %); 53.5% used online platforms. Nearly 45% had no former ANC experience. Both ANC formats were reported inferior to face-to-face nutritional consultation (consultation quality median scores 8 and 7, on a 1-10 scale, for online and phone, respectively). ANC difficulties on either phone or online platforms were technical (56% and 47%, respectively), lack of anthropometric measurements (28% and 25%, respectively), and interpersonal communication (19% and 14.6%, respectively). Older age and former phone counseling experience were associated with higher quality scores, respectively, (OR=1.046 95%CI 1.01 1.08, P=0.005), (95%CI 1.38 4.52, P=0.02). Those who continued to work fulltime had 5-time greater odds for a higher quality score using online platforms (OR=5.33 95%CI 1.091 14.89 P=0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest telemedicine holds considerable promise for dietary consultation; however, additional tools and training are needed to optimize remote ANC, especially in light of potential crisis-induced lockdown.

PMID:33436134 | DOI:10.1017/S1368980021000148