Adolescent nutrition: self-perceived deficiencies and needs of practitioners working with youth.
Sixty-three percent of a random sample of 866 members within three practice groups of The American Dietetic Association responded to a survey designed to assess (a) perceived competency of nutrition management in 20 major areas of adolescent health, (b) desire to increase skill level in each area, and (c) preferred approaches for continuing education activities. Of the 549 respondents, 92% were registered dietitians (R.D.s), 5% were registration-eligible, and more than half (51%) had advanced degrees. Twenty-five percent or more of all practitioners reported deficiencies in 17 of the 20 categories. The five top areas in which respondents believed that they had insufficient skills were psychosomatic problems (87%), handicapping conditions (82%), sports nutrition (81%), alcohol/drug abuse-related nutrition concerns (80%), and anorexia nervosa/bulimia nervosa (72%). The strongest desires to improve skills were in the areas of obesity, poor dietary patterns, sports nutrition, food fads, supplement misuse, alternative diets, and eating disorders. There was low interest in strengthening skills in family planning, psychosomatic problems, and handicapping conditions. The implications of the results are discussed. Continuing education methods respondents believed to be most beneficial for learning were small conferences, lectures with ample discussion, and "hands-on" workshops.
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