One in four adults are estimated to be at medium to high risk of malnutrition when screened using the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ upon admission to hospital in the United Kingdom. The Need for Nutrition Education/Education Programme (NNEdPro) Group was developed to address this issue and the Nutrition Education and Leadership for Improved Clinical Outcomes (NELICO) is a project within this group.
The objective of NELICO was to assess whether an intensive training intervention combining clinical and public health nutrition, organisational management and leadership strategies, could equip junior doctors to contribute to improvement in nutrition awareness among healthcare professionals in the National Health Service in England.
Three junior doctors were self-selected from the NNEdPro Group original training. Each junior doctor recruited three additional team members to attend an intensive training weekend incorporating nutrition, change management and leadership. This equipped them to run nutrition awareness weeks in their respective hospitals. Knowledge, attitudes and practices were evaluated at baseline as well as one and four months post-training as a quality assurance measure. The number and type of educational events held, pre-awareness week Online Hospital Survey results, attendance and qualitative feedback from training sessions, effectiveness of dissemination methods such as awareness stalls, Hospital Nutrition Attitude Survey results and overall feedback were also used to determine impact.
When the weighted average score for knowledge, attitudes and practices at baseline was compared with four months post-intervention scores, there was a significant increase in the overall score (p = 0.03). All three hospital teams conducted an effective nutrition awareness week, as determined by qualitative data collected from interviews and feedback from educational sessions.
The NELICO project and its resulting nutrition awareness weeks were considered innovative in terms of concept and content. It was considered useful, both for the junior doctors who showed improvement in their nutrition knowledge and reported enthusiasm and for the hospital setting, increasing awareness of clinical and public health nutrition among healthcare professionals. The NELICO project is one innovative method to promote nutrition awareness in tomorrow’s doctors and shows they have the enthusiasm and drive to be nutrition champions.