Background: In primary care, leaflets are often used to communicate health information. Increasingly, primary healthcare practitioners need to provide dietary advice. There is limited research exploring how nutrition information leaflets are used in primary care. The present study explored practitioner and lay experiences with respect to providing and receiving nutrition information in primary care, focusing in particular on the use of leaflets for nutrition information.
Methods: A qualitative design was used incorporating focus groups with 57 practitioners based at seven general practitioner practices and a purposive sample of 30 lay participants attending six Consumer Health Organisations within one primary care trust. Focus groups were taped and transcribed verbatim and data were analysed thematically, assisted by computer software n6® (QSR International Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia).
Results: Practitioners discussed barriers to giving nutritional advice, access to leaflets, lay receptiveness to advice and their perceptions about the value of leaflets to lay people. Food was not considered in terms of its nutritional components by lay participants and the need for nutritional information was not perceived to be relevant until they had received a medical diagnosis. Lay participants discussed the importance of receiving nutritional advice relating to their medical diagnosis and the altered status of written information that was delivered personally. Practitioner and lay groups suggested improvements to ensure that nutritional advice be supported by relevant and appropriate written information.
Conclusions: This research has underlined the continuing importance of nutrition information leaflets and concludes that there is particular value in involving lay participants in the development of nutrition information leaflets.