Current Work

I lead a team of researchers who are expanding the evidence-base of nutrition care in general practice. The research occurs in five areas:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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: