• nutritional nursing care;
  • nutrition;
  • attitude;
  • training programme;
  • knowledge;
  • responsibility;
  • food service;
  • focus group interview;
  • deductive content analysis;
  • nutritional nurse practitioners

Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 81–89 Nurses’ self-reported knowledge about and attitude to nutrition – before and after a training programme

Background:  It is well known that appropriate nutrition is vital for inpatientrecovery. Traditionally, nutrition is part of nurses’ area of responsibility and as it affects mortality and morbidity, it is important that nurses feel responsible for, and accomplish adequate nutrition care during the patients’ hospital stay. But putting evidence of nutritional topics into practice is challenging and nutrition care seems to be a low priority nursing task.

Aims:  To investigate the impact of training programme targeted nurses with special responsibilities for nutrition on the nurses’ knowledge of nutrition, and whether it enhanced their attitude to their responsibility for nutrition care in relation to assessment and management.

Methods:  An intervention study was conducted with 16 nurses from either medical or surgical wards who participated in a 12-month training programme. These nurses were divided into two groups and interviewed twice before and after the intervention. Focus group interviews were used to gather data about their daily clinical work in relation to nutrition. Deductive content analysis was used to analyse the described data.

Results:  The training programme did have an impact on the nurses’ knowledge of nutrition. It made them feel more secure and strengthened their ability to take responsibility for more nutrition management and as the results indicate, improved their awareness of nurse-specific treatment and their responsibility for nutrition assessment. We also found that nurses still have difficulty expressing their knowledge of nutrition using academic concepts, as they mainly use general phrases.

Conclusion:  The findings suggest that a short-duration training programme enhances nurses’ awareness of nutrition care, but it is not enough to achieve the nurses’ full understanding of their responsibility for nutrition care.