Excellence in nutrition education requires a strong base in research evidence. While evidence-based practice is recognized as essential for nutrition education programming, little research in this area has targeted nutrition educators.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the perceived knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, and activities of nutrition extension educators related to evidence-based practice.
Study Design, Settings, Participant
Family and consumer sciences (FCS) extension agents in Florida were surveyed using an online, modified version of the Evidence-based Practice Questionnaire (EBPQ) through Qualtrics.
Evidence-based practice activities over the past year (1 = never to 7 = frequently), attitudes towards evidence-based practice (1 = very negative to 7 = very positive agreement), and knowledge, skills and abilities related to evidence-based practice (1 = poor to 5 = excellent) were rated. Preferred sources of evidence-based nutrition information also were queried.
Of the 85 nutrition educators surveyed, 20 FCS agents completed the survey. Regarding undertaking evidence-based practice activities to address gaps in knowledge, participants reported a rating of 5.2 ± 1.5 (mean ± SD). Attitudes were rated at 5.7 ± 1.5 and perceived knowledge, skills and abilities averaged 3.6 ± 0.8. Sources of evidence-based information included professional organizations (American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior), government departments (U.S. Department of Agriculture), university-approved curriculum and online resources, reputable domain names (.edu, .org, and .gov), nutrition journals, and state extension specialists.
FCS extension agents reported applying evidence-based practice activities to support their nutrition extension programming and very positive attitudes towards evidence-based nutrition education. However, lower ratings of perceived knowledge, skills and abilities suggest a need for professional development opportunities related to evidence-based practice.