Nutrition education improves knowledge and motivation of pregnant individuals to eat a healthy diet. While a majority of pregnant patients receive some to all of their nutrition education from their obstetrician gynecologist (OB-GYN), there is a lack of literature on information covered and the nature of referral practices to registered dietitians (RDNs) as part of the care team.
The purpose of this study was to explore the type, timing, and scope of nutrition education provided by OB-GYN practitioners and examine frequency and nature of referral practices to RDNs.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Surveys were distributed by contacting medical school directors of obstetric programs nationwide, and asking them to forward the survey to current obstetric providers in their residency and any alumni.
Descriptive statistics were obtained using SPSS.
Out of 31 respondents, the majority were female (n = 26), medical doctors (n = 25), and worked with pregnant/lactating populations for ≤ 5 years (n = 17). OB-GYNs treated pregnant patients with documented nutrition related health complications (56%), and nutrition counseling was provided by someone at their practice (58%). Barriers to providing nutrition education were length of appointment time(81%) and provider knowledge of nutrition(66%). While 67% of OB-GYNs felt prepared to provide nutrition education, 57% spent less than five minutes per visit discussing nutrition. OB-GYNs agreed clients would benefit from RDN counseling (97%) and reported referring to RDNs (71%). Reasons most cited for not referring to RDNs were patient interest (23%) and potential cost/lack of adequate reimbursement (28%).
A majority of OB-GYNs felt patients would benefit from counseling with an RDN and engaged in referrals to RDNs, but expressed hesitation related to cost to patient and lack of patient interest. The length of appointment time, a major barrier cited, and provider knowledge may prevent OB's from having the ability to adequately cover important nutrition topics for pregnancy and referrals to an RDN could provide an added layer of education if barriers for patients were further explored and mitigated.