I lead a team of researchers who are expanding the evidence-base of nutrition care in general practice. The research occurs in five areas:
- Putting patients first – We are finding out how patients change their diet after being told they have a chronic disease. We are understanding the factors that help them have a healthy diet, and the factors that make it more challenging to eat well. This research involves a large, longitudinal cohort study of people recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (“3D Study”), examining their eating habits as well as their physical activity levels, medication, weight and waist circumference, family support, mental health, smoking, attitudes towards healthy eating and interactions with health care providers.
- Helping those who help – We have developed a low-cost, feasible, acceptable support bundle aimed at helping health professionals feel more confident in discussing nutrition with patients. We are sharing the resources with general practice clinics, primary health networks and other health services to support as many health professionals as possible. Please get in contact if you are interested in receiving this support.
- Learning from the past – The general practice setting is transforming. It didn’t always used to “be this way”. We are investigating the history of nutrition in general practice by analysing the narrative of nutrition in government reports, health care policies, journal articles, practice guidelines and medical curricula. We are using this important information to understand how nutrition lost its way in general practice. We are also making a plan to put nutrition at the forefront once again.
- The way we care – We know that many patients feel unheard and rushed when discussing nutrition with health professionals. This is not “patient-centred.” We are finding out how to make sure that patients’ needs, values, preferences and wishes are always incorporated when health professionals discuss nutrition in consultations. We are using this new information to improve how health professionals are educated in nutrition and change the way that “nutrition care” is delivered in practice.
- Dietitians’ Dilemmas – More than a third of dietitians work in primary care. Being a dietitian in primary care is rewarding, but hard work. Some of the main challenges include having multiple locations, insecure income, working out of usual hours, minimal mentoring, and lack of systems to track patient outcomes. We are working to revolutionise the way that dietitians are funded in Australia to make sure this important part of the workforce continues to grow in a sustainable, effective manner.
I also contribute to numerous other programs of work using my expertise in primary care research, nutrition, exercise medicine and knowledge translation. Examples include:
- The University of Queensland, Mater Research Institute Centre for Health System Reform and Integration – drawing upon my expertise in primary health care research to help meet their goals of improved primary care services in Australia.
- The Centre for Research Excellence on Prostate Cancer Survivorship – drawing upon my expertise in nutrition, exercise medicine and primary health care to help meet their goals of improved prostate cancer survivorship.
- The Australian National University Medical School “Change Program” – drawing upon my expertise in nutrition and primary health care to help meet their goals of improved obesity management by Australian General Practitioners.
- The Need for Nutrition Education Programme at the University of Cambridge, UK – drawing upon my expertise in nutrition, primary health care and higher education training to meet their goals of improved nutrition education for medical and health professionals.
- The Nutrition & Dietetics discipline at Griffith University – drawing upon my expertise in primary health care research and nutrition to help mentor and supervise research projects on the topic of dietetic practice in primary health care.
- The University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences – drawing upon my expertise in nutrition and primary health care to help explore the nutrition care practices of New Zealand General Practitioners.