Objective: The purpose of the study was to examine the general food and nutrition-related beliefs and knowledge of nursing professionals attending post-partum women.
Design: Data were collected by self-administered questionnaire.
Subjects: Three hundred and sixty-two hospital-based nursing staff responsible for the care of post-parturient women.
Setting: Eight metropolitan and regional hospitals in Queensland and three maternity hospitals in Canberra.
Main outcome measures: Beliefs, opinions and intentions relating to food, nutrition and weight; knowledge of requirements of core foods; and sources of nutrition information.
Statistical analysis: Standard statistical tests were used to measure frequencies and assess bivariate relationships.
Results: Almost all participants (97.8%) were confident they could give good advice to their patients about a healthy balanced diet. The majority (65.5%) reported providing such advice at least weekly, 27.9% daily, and 19.5% rarely or never gave nutritional advice. The food-related beliefs of most participants (>85%) were in line with current knowledge for 78% of questions. However, their knowledge of core food requirements for adults was inadequate; only 0.6% gave correct answers to all four food intake questions, 16.8% gave three correct answers, 62% two and 20.7% one correct answer. The most commonly cited sources of nutrition information were professional training (51.4%), reading (38.7%), media (14.9%), self-education and work-related experience (10.8%), dietitian (10.5%), school (7.5%), family (6.4%) and dieting (5.0%).
Conclusion: Nursing staff frequently provide nutritional advice to post-partum women. There is a need to ensure such information is accurate. Further research should explore ways in which this can be achieved.