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Abstract

An online needs assessment survey of healthcare providers was developed and implemented to determine knowledge and attitudes about the benefits and risks of consuming seafood along with how this might impact patient/clientele counseling. Only 6 of the 45 knowledge items queried (13%) met the 80% subject mastery or proficiency with a total knowledge score of 56 ± 18%. Based on this survey, it was found that healthcare providers were less than proficient regarding all knowledge areas for seafood. Understanding of seafood safety and contaminants was low. In addition, while the majority (76%) of healthcare respondents knew the correct recommendation for seafood meals per week, they failed to identify the groups that were targeted by the Food and Drug Administration/Environmental Protection Agency (FDA/EPA) advisory about seafood and mercury and therefore could be providing inaccurate information. Attitudinal responses for 18 items resulted in an overall average score of 3.28 ± 0.47 meaning slightly agree (based on a 5-point Likert scale strongly disagree—strongly agree). While trends showed that it was important to the respondents to provide accurate information (3.78 ± 1.06) about seafood to their patients, they felt more comfortable recommending that their patients follow government advice (3.52 ± 0.91) about both seafood safety and which seafood to eat over other sources. Combined with a low knowledge base, attitudinal responses indicate that there could be a barrier to both outreach education to these healthcare providers and to their patient counseling regarding seafood consumption. Results also showed that a combination of online, science-based, easy to access information with the capability to provide brochure-formatted information would appear to be the best way to communicate seafood safety, nutrition, and health information.