Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mehta, Sudha

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences


Alternative medicine; Dietitians--Attitudes; Dietitians--Education


Objective To examine the attitudes and knowledge of dietitians toward alternative therapies (AT) in general, and nutritional therapies in particular. Participants were queried in regard to vitamin/mineral supplementation, herbalism, chelation therapy, homeopathy, macrobiotics, naturopathy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Design A questionnaire was developed to survey the participants about their level of education, beliefs relating to the benefits and safety of AT, and intended behavior with regard to recommending AT. Scores from Yes, No, or Undecided type responses were used in the data analysis. Subjects Five hundred e-mail addresses of registered dietitians were randomly selected from the ADA’s “Find A Dietitian” link on the ADA Internet homepage. Ninety-eight e-mail addresses were inactive. Of the 402 surveys e-mailed, two hundred thirty-nine (59.4%) were returned. Statistical analyses Frequencies and percentages were used to examine demographic characteristics of the respondents. Multiple range “t”-tests and analyses of variance were used to assess the relationships between attitude and knowledge scores, and demographic variables. Results Mean attitude and knowledge scores were 4-58±0.8 and 19.3+.4.1, respectively. A moderate correlation was found between dietitians who consume multi-vitamin/mineral supplements and overall knowledge level. Dietitians felt (87%) they should be educating the public on the use of herbal preparations and supplements. However, only 50% felt secure in offering advice on the use of herbs, and 62% expressed confidence in recommending (one-a-day) multi-vitamin/mineral supplements. ABSTRACT Respondents (94%) agreed that public interest in AT is growing more rapidly than the knowledge of dietitians. Dietitians felt that entry-level practitioners should be knowledgeable about AT, and expressed their willingness to acquire this knowledge via continuing education. They also recommended that knowledge of AT should be provided in the dietetic curriculum. To address practitioner interest in this emerging area, in 1998, the ADA approved the formation of a new Dietetic Practice Group. Approximately 36% expressed interest in joining this group. Conclusions Although attitudes and knowledge of dietitians are positive, proper training in the undergraduate curriculum is lacking. Given dietitians’ positive attitudes toward AT, an introduction should be considered within the dietetic curriculum, though additional training should be left until after graduation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [31]-34)


47 pages




Northern Illinois University

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