Parham, Ellen S.
M.S. (Master of Science)
School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences
This study sought to determine if there were different attitudes among registered dietitians toward the titles dietitian, nutritionist and medical nutrition therapist. Dietitians are also referred to as nutritionists and many non-licensed or so-called professionals profess to be nutritionists. The review of literature reveals that dietetics has evolved from a culinary arts phase to one of a health care profession. It was the goal of this study to determine if registered dietitians preferred one title over another based on the attitude score of the sample. The influence of age and years of experience or attitudes was also examined. The sample population was selected by purchasing a random sample of one thousand labels of R.D.s who were American Dietetic Association (ADA) members. Each name in the sample was mailed a survey. The participants were instructed to fill out the survey that contained questions for age, years of experience, and dietetic registration and ADA membership. Attitudes were assessed from responses to a nine-question semantic differential instrument, with four pairs of adjectives for each question and score range of 0 to 5 for each pair of adjectives. Each title was examined by the respondent from three perspectives: his/her own, patient, and health care professional. All three perspectives were combined to yield a total attitude score for each title. Therefore, the attitude score for each title could range from 0 to 15. Each participant signed a consent form and returned it with the survey. The number of surveys returned was 398 of the 1,000 mailed, resulting in a 39.8% return rate. Most respondents were clinical dietitians in practice 16-20 years and between 41 and 45 years of age. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), repeated measures of analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), Pearson correlations and means comparisons were calculated using SPSS statistical software. The correlation calculated using age and attitude score for the title dietitian showed a significant but weak correlation. Using repeated measure of ANCOVA, age was the covariate, area of practice the independent variable and attitude scores the dependent variable. There was no significance differences in attitudes in reference to area of practice. The differences in mean scores in this study were not significant, with each maximum mean score approximately 2/3 the maximum total score of 15. Mean scores revealed that all areas of practice, except for community dietitians, showed the highest score for MNT, while community dietitians showed the highest mean score for nutritionist. For all practice groups combined, MNT had the highest mean score. This study needs to be followed up in order to obtain a larger sample. Perhaps with a larger sample size a significant association may be found between the variables. Also each individual perspective score may need to be looked at instead of an overall total attitude score. Based on the data obtained there is no indication that there is a widespread commitment to change the professional title for dietitian.
Skinner, Paul A., "The attitudes of registered dietitians toward the titles nutritionist, dietitian, and medical nutrition therapist" (1997). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5330.
Northern Illinois University
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