Development of a validated questionnaire to measure the self-perceived competence of primary health professionals in providing nutrition care to patients with chronic disease

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Abstract

Background.

Nutrition is an important aspect of chronic disease prevention and management by primary health professionals, including GPs, dietitians, practice nurses, diabetes educators and exercise professionals. In order to better understand how to improve the delivery of nutrition care, it is important to have valid and reliable tools to measure self-perceived competence.

Objective.

This study aimed to develop a valid, structured, questionnaire that measures the self-perceived competence of primary health professionals to provide nutrition care to patients with chronic disease.

Methods.

The development of the questionnaire was carried out in four stages (1): preparation of scope and structure, through a literature review and consultation with an expert reference group (2); development of questionnaire items, which were refined through feedback from the reference group and 18 primary health professionals (3); investigation of internal consistency and concurrent validity through a pilot study on 118 primary health professionals (4) and investigation of test–retest reliability through a pilot study on 33 primary health professionals who completed the questionnaire twice, 2–3 weeks apart.

Results.

Stages 1 and 2 resulted in four constructs and 35 questions in the questionnaire. Stage 3 confirmed internal consistency, with Cronbach’s α ranging from 0.88 to 0.98 for each construct and 0.98 for all items combined. Dietitians scored significantly higher than speech pathologists (P < 0.05) in each construct, confirming concurrent validity. Stage 4 confirmed test–retest reliability, with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.89 to 0.94 for each construct and 0.95 for all items combined.

Conclusion.

The NUTrition COMPetence (NUTCOMP) questionnaire is a valid, reliable and suitable tool that can be used to directly inform professional development and identify opportunities to support safe and effective practice.

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