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Dietitian’s perceptions, knowledge and attitudes regarding their role in the assessment of food insecurity in Alberta Open Access


Other title
Food security screening
Nutritional assessment
Dietetic practice
Food Insecurity
Grounded theory
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Medrano Chavez, Ana Luisa
Supervisor and department
Farmer, Anna (Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Examining committee member and department
Ball, Geoff (Department of Pediatrics)
Willows, Noreen (Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science
Nutrition and Metabolism
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
During 2012, four million Canadians struggled to bring healthy foods to their tables. Dietitians play a key role in assessing food insecurity and in supporting individuals, families, and communities experiencing this problem. Yet, the detection of food insecurity is often missed during the routine nutritional assessment, and it is not clear why and to what extent this occurs. A grounded theory approach was used to understand the perceptions, knowledge and attitudes of Alberta dietitians from different areas of practice towards addressing household food insecurity in the dietetic practice. The findings revealed that complexity in addressing food insecurity was the central category associated with subcategories: perception of role, continuing education and training, availability of information, resources and support from health system, involvement in advocacy actions, and source of occupational stress. The central category referred to individual, community and organizational level barriers in screening and supporting clients living in food insecurity. These results point to dietitians’ need for assistance in developing appropriate skills, and having access to training and resources for screening and discussing food insecurity with clients. Advocating for food security issues was perceived as an important but informal part of the dietitian’s job, yet few dietitians reported being involved in food security advocacy. As well, feelings of constant discomfort, helplessness and inadequacy when screening clients for food insecurity were reported by dietitians. These findings will inform the gaps in knowledge for supporting dietitians in different settings to overcome barriers in incorporating food insecurity in routine nutritional assessments. Findings from this study will be used for the development of quantitative surveys aimed at further study of factors associated with poor screening of food insecurity in dietetic practice at a national level.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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