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Nurse practitioners, nutrition counseling, primary care, qualitative



  1. Eaton, Maggie PhD, RN, FNP-BC (Nurse Scientist)


Background: Poor nutrition is one of the leading risk factors for preventable chronic diseases in the United States. Nutrition counseling has been shown to improve clinical outcomes in the adult primary care setting. Nurse practitioners (NPs) can help fill the critical need for nutrition counseling, yet little is known about their role providing nutrition counseling.


Purpose: To describe the primary care NP's experience in providing nutrition counseling to adult patients in primary care practice.


Methods: Qualitative descriptive study design. Data were collected through virtual semi-structured interviews with 18 board-certified primary care NPs. Interviews were audio-recorded, de-identified, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed. Data collection and analysis took place concurrently and continued until data saturation was achieved.


Results: Five themes emerged from NPs' descriptions of their experiences in providing nutrition counseling to adult patients in primary care practice: (1) role of nutrition counseling in NP primary care practice; (2) developing NP self-efficacy in nutrition counseling; (3) nutrition counseling is more than the provision of information; (4) emotional aspect of nutrition; and (5) barriers to behavior change.


Conclusions: Findings suggest that although NPs understand the importance of nutrition counseling in primary care practice and provide it in some capacity, its continuance is limited by multiple barriers. Future research should evaluate ways to enhance NPs' preparedness to provide nutrition counseling, assess specific resources and tools to aid in nutrition counseling, and determine best practices for communication when delivering nutrition counseling.


Implications for practice: Future interventions have the potential to positively affect patients' dietary practices and improve clinical outcomes.