Studies suggest cooking skill-based learning increases knowledge and improves nutrition attitudes and confidence more than traditional knowledge-based approaches. Current educational strategies may not adequately prepare future healthcare professionals to become empathetic and innovative problem-solvers who have the skills to provide evidence-based and practical advice about nutrition.
The objective of this study was to investigate how a culinary medicine course for pre-health profession college students impacts nutrition care attitudes.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Twenty-five pre-health profession undergraduate students enrolled in an interprofessional, experiential culinary medicine course participated. This was a skills- and case-based course which focused on food and cooking, and evidence-based nutrition recommendations for chronic disease.
Items from the validated Nutrition in Patient Care Survey (NIPS) were administered pre-post course completion to assess nutrition care attitudes. Sociodemographic characteristics such as age, year in college, career aspirations, race, and ethnicity were collected. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, paired t tests, Wilcoxon signed rank tests, and ANOVA with post hoc analysis.
Baseline attitudes scores were somewhat high compared to literature from working health professionals. No significant changes were seen in attitude scores, but differences were found based on ethnicity and career aspirations. Students identifying as Hispanic had more negative attitudes regarding nutrition counseling (P = 0.001) and including nutrition in routine patient care (P = 0.013), but had more positive attitudes towards the importance of taste in improving dietary patterns (P = 0.002). Aspiring doctors, dentists, and physician assistants had more negative attitudes about nutrition counseling than future dietitians (P = 0.008) and nurses (P = 0.049).
Although no significant changes were found in attitude scores, the differences based on ethnicity and career aspirations warrant further investigation. Nutrition care is incidental to many health professionals’ practice. Strategies to cultivate positive attitudes regarding the role of nutrition across health disciplines should be identified to better develop competency.