Interprofessional Collaboration in Addressing Diet as a Common Risk Factor: A Qualitative Study

Hwee Hsia Ong, Chi Ching Joan Wan Joan Wan, Xiaoli Gao

Abstract


Background: Unhealthy diet is a common risk factor threatening dental and general health. Conflicting dietary advice persists among different healthcare professions, despite some shared goals, causing mystification to patients and the public. This qualitative study aimed to understand the perspectives of dentists, physicians, and dietitians in targeting unhealthy diet as a common risk factor, their experiences and barriers in addressing conflicting dietary advice, and possible ways for improving cross-professional coordination.

Methods and Findings: A purposive sample of 40 dentists, physicians, and dieticians was recruited from different service sectors and joined in semi-structured interviews, which were subjected to thematic content analysis. Participants supported the common risk factor approach and suggested improving cross-professional cooperation by maximizing potentials of multidisciplinary care, engaging auxiliary/allied staff, refining electronic systems, and incorporating cutting-edge communication technologies. Inconsistent dietary advice stemmed from different treatment focuses and lack of mutual understanding and well-followed guidelines. Inconsistencies can be resolved by striking a balance for the patient’s best interest, well-informing patients, respecting patients’ autonomy, acquiring cross-professional knowledge, and conforming to shared guidelines.

Conclusions: Views solicited from three healthcare professions endorsed the importance of cross-professional partnership in preventing/managing dietrelated health problems. Educators, professional bodies, and administrators share the responsibility to dispel conflicting health messages and promote better practice in dietary counselling.


Keywords


Common risk factor; Diet; Health; Interprofessional collaboration; Qualitative research

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22230/jripe.2015v5n2a215