Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

A Preliminary Qualitative Exploration of Dietitians' Engagement with Genetics and Nutritional Genomics: Perspectives from International Leaders

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

A Preliminary Qualitative Exploration of Dietitians' Engagement with Genetics and Nutritional Genomics: Perspectives from International Leaders

Article excerpt

This qualitative study explored the underlying determinants of dietitians' current practice and attitudes about nutritional genomics. METHODS: Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with international leaders selected across each domain of dietetics practice from Australia (n=8) and the United Kingdom (n=8). Interviews explored knowledge, involvement, perceived role, and attitudes about the benefits and barriers of genetics and nutritional genomics. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Five key themes were identified. (i) acknowledgment that there are wide applications for nutritional genomics; (ii) a general lack of awareness of nutritional genomics that underlies a knowledge, skills, and confidence gap; (iii) dietitians are patient-orientated and thus are receptive to the public's needs; (iv) the legitimacy of commercialised nutritional genomics products and services; and (v) prioritisation of nutritional genomics amongst other practice-related commitments as well as the influence of the workplace setting. CONCLUSIONS: In order for healthcare services to prepare for the application of nutritional genomics, these social, political, attitudinal, and awareness issues amongst dietitians need to be addressed. Further education in nutritional genomics may help to build awareness, continued research is crucial in determining utility, whilst establishing a healthcare system that supports and rewards this approach may cultivate its adoption. J Allied Health 2014; 43(4):221-228.

OUR INCREASING UNDERSTANDING about the human genome and its implications for health and disease holds promise that allied health professionals may use and interpret such information in the screening, diagnosis, and personalised management of patients in the future, if not already.1 This has led to a recognised need for all healthcare professionals to develop competence in genomics.2 Genomics is the scientific study of how a person's genome may interact with the environment to influence their growth and health status ( phenotype). 3 Within nutrition, a branch of genomics is described as nutritional genomics (NG), which considers how nutrients or dietary constituents influence gene expression (nutrigenomics) and how genetic variation influences metabolic response to nutrients or dietary constituents (nutrigenetics).4 These hold promise for more accurate and effective diagnosis and nutritional treatment of monogenetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, and nutritional prevention of polygenetic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.5-7

There is increasing interest in genomics, evidenced by rising government investment in research8 and commercial direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genetic testing and counselling services.9 This field has had widereaching impact amongst the scientific community, with extremely rapid advancements being made, and it may potentially impact on how all allied health professionals manage patients, with dietitians likely to play a key role in the provision of genetic-driven nutritional care. Translation into practice is therefore essential to ensure the potential benefits derived from NG science are realised in disease prevention and management, whilst accounting for the limitations of current information acknowledged in this complex field.

Some health professionals, such as physicians and genetic counsellors, have been reported as unprepared and expressing concerns relating to the provision of genomic services, including DTC.10 Whether this is similar for dietitians and NG is of interest. Dietitians are recognised as the experts in biomedical and nutritional sciences and should be well placed to communicate concepts around NG to the public. Also, NG is predicted to impact all domains of dietetics.6,11 With an estimated 7,100 registered dietitians and 3,080 accredited practising dietitians in the UK and Australia, respectively, dietetics is a relatively small profession but nonetheless plays an important role in health care provision. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.