An exploration of self-perceived competence in providing nutrition care among physiotherapists in Ireland: a cross-sectional study

Anne Griffin, Helen Conway, Jacqueline Chawke, Megan Keane, Pauline Douglas, Dervla Kelly

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Integrating nutrition care into physiotherapy can address modifiable risk factors contributing to chronic diseases, providing comprehensive and effective patient care, and supporting a wellness-oriented approach to healthcare.

To investigate physiotherapists’ self-perceived confidence in their competence in nutrition care in Ireland.

Cross-sectional study using data from a validated online survey tool. Four constructs of competence in nutrition care were assessed: knowledge, skill, communication and counseling, and attitude. Open-ended responses were collected to gather opinions on nutrition knowledge requirements. Participants were chartered physiotherapists representing public and private workplaces across geographical settings in Ireland.

447 physiotherapists completed the survey. Most were female (n = 364, 81%), in private practice (n = 136, 31%), and located in a city (n = 215, 48%) with a mean 17 years post-qualification experience. Participants’ self-perceived confidence in nutrition care competence was positive (mean score of 107.2/175). However, knowledge (mean score of 18.5/35) and skills (mean score of 27.2/55) related to nutrition care received lower ratings. Age and years of practice were positively associated with higher confidence in providing nutrition care. Most participants (n = 314, 71%) agreed that additional nutrition education is needed. Three overarching themes were identified regarding nutrition knowledge requirements: importance of providing nutrition advice, stated knowledge needs for nutrition education and training, and feasibility of nutrition care within physiotherapy practice.

Physiotherapists in Ireland have confidence in provision of nutrition care but rated their knowledge and skills in nutrition as relatively low. Nutrition knowledge and skill are essential for physiotherapist practice as they can significantly impact patients’ outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Early online date4 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 4 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Physiotherapists
  • chronic disease
  • nutrition education
  • nutrition communication
  • nutrition counselling
  • nutrition counseling


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