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Keywords:

  • allied health;
  • dietetic practice;
  • dietitian workforce;
  • private practice

Abstract

Aim

To describe the demographic, operational and financial working profile of private practice dietitians in Australia.

Methods

A cross-sectional online survey examined the demographics, business structure, key services and fees, marketing strategies, financial welfare, professional support and motivation for dietitians working in the private practice sector in Australia. A link to the survey was posted on the Dietitians Association of Australia, Dietitians In the Private Sector Interest Group national list serve, from September to October 2011 (potential reach of 1222 members). Reminder emails were posted every seven days; data collection ceased after 28 days.

Results

A total of 156 dietitians completed the online survey, representing a response rate of 13%. The majority were female, aged 20–30 years. Seventy-four per cent of the dietitians identified themselves as the proprietor of the business in which they worked. Eighty-four per cent of the respondents had prior dietetic experience before entering private practice, mainly in the hospital/clinical setting. Most dietitians conducted <20 consultations per week, with the main source of referrals being general practitioners. Initial consultations were on average 52 ± 13 minutes in length (range 30–120 minutes) and incurred a fee of $99 ± 22 (range $60–$195). For dietitians renumerated on a ‘per-hour’ basis (41%), the gross hourly rate was $71 ± $35 (range $20–$135). For those renumerated on a ‘percentage of income generated’ basis (44%), the rate was 52 ± 23% (range 15–89%).

Conclusions

The present study provides valuable data on the working profile of private practice dietitians in Australia, which will inform support and advocacy for this working group.