Nutrition Counseling and Dietitian Referral Practices of Pediatricians in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area
The 2012 Medicaid Childhood Obesity Prevention Pilot Final Report to the Texas Legislature cited pediatricians’ lack of interest and referrals as one reason the pilot failed. Studies suggest physicians feel their patients would benefit from dietitian’s nutrition counseling but have low referral rates. This cross-sectional, internet survey-based study aimed to identify DFW-based pediatricians’ barriers when providing nutrition counseling and referring patients to dietitians using qualitative and quantitative data. Among pediatricians completing the survey (n=11), ~54% reported rarely referring patients to dietitians. Barriers were cited by ~82% , including lack of local or pediatric dietitians and familial barriers such as time and cost. The findings suggest a lack of referrals is not due to pediatrician disinterest. Rather, to increase dietitian referrals, we may need to increase dietitian availability and financial services to make dietitians more accessible and affordable.
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