Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

King, Sondra L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences


Dietitians; Nutrition--Study and teaching (Higher); Physicians--Attitudes; Medical colleges--Curricula


This study sought to determine if there was any positive effect on formal nutrition education in medical school on physicians' image of clinical dietitians. Since studies show that curricula in medical schools are changing to incorporate formal nutrition classes, it was also a goal of this study to determine if younger versus older physicians had a more positive image since they may have been more likely to have had a formal nutrition class in medical school. The sample population was selected from physicians (MDs) in nutrition - related specialties practicing at a 200-bed community hospital located in a suburb of a large U.S. city. Participants were instructed to fill out a survey that contained both questions on demographics and image. Responses to questions on image were based on a 5-point Likert scale and were to be based on any clinical RD they are currently or have previously worked with. Each participant signed a consent form which was returned separately from the survey to ensure anonymity. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and means were calculated using SPSS statistical software. Positive significance was found with the two-way effect of years in practice and having had a separate class in medical school. There was a greater significance with those older physicians (in practice 11+ years) than the younger ones. There was no significance between just years in practice or having had a formal nutrition class. Most respondents were male, in practice 11-20 years, specialized in psychiatry, family practice or internal medicine, had not had a formal class in nutrition in medical school and had worked with clinical RDs at several other locations. Based on the highest possible positive score of 24, 68% of respondents fell in the 50% or greater range (or 12 points or more) and 32% fell in the less than 50% range (or less than 12 points). Therefore, 68% of respondents had a positive image of clinical RDs. The majority of physicians in this study had a positive image of clinical RDs. However, they weren't very knowledeable about RDs' formal training. This is one area that RDs need to educate physicians in. The fact that there was an even greater effect on image with increased years in practice, may suggest that the longer physicians work with clinical RDs, the more they become aware of what they are capable of and how they can help in the care of their patients. Clinical dietitians need to be aware that much of how physicians view them is based on the physicians' experience working with them. This can take time. This study needs to be done on a broader scale to compare results from other samples or populations.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [21]-22)


31 pages




Northern Illinois University

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