A student nutrition service for patients with peripheral arterial disease: student and patient perspectives to explain outcomes

Author: Jenni Suen

Suen, Jenni, 2021 A student nutrition service for patients with peripheral arterial disease: student and patient perspectives to explain outcomes, Flinders University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

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The worldwide aging population and population longevity presents a unique challenge where the need for healthcare provision rises. Effective alternate healthcare provision strategies are required to ease the burden on healthcare. This thesis explores student-led health interventions as a strategy for prevention, treatment, and management of chronic conditions on the cardiovascular risk factors. Chapter 1 demonstrates the literature available on patient outcomes through two systematic reviews. A case study example of a Student Nutrition Service for community dwelling people with Peripheral Arterial Disease, an underserved population, is presented in Chapter 1. The effectiveness of this strategy is explored through a mixed methods study with an embedded randomised controlled trial. Table 10 summarises the four research objectives and the respective data collection tools and outcome measured used. Both patient and student participant perspectives are considered to explain the outcomes. Figure 7 summarises the timeline of the randomised controlled trial for the patient participants. Figure 13 summarises the student participants’ involvement in the research study.

The case study demonstrates that a Student Nutrition Service reduces the consumption of discretionary foods based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating through increased nutrition knowledge and skills amongst patients. Discretionary foods may provide variety but not essential nutrients to the body. These foods are energy dense and high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and/or alcohol are classified as discretionary foods based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Additionally, dietetic students across all bachelor and masters’ year levels perceived the development of competency towards dietetic practice from participating. From a process evaluation of the Student Nutrition Service model both patient participants and student participants, perceived that the intervention components based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory aided their learning. Original contributions to knowledge in the fields of nutritional treatments, health professional education and alternate service delivery models are demonstrated.

Findings demonstrate that a Student Nutrition Service is effective from the patient participants’ perspective at assisting with dietary change and is a model of care that is acceptable. To date, there has been no research that has demonstrated perceived dietetic competency development amongst dietetic student volunteers from all year levels. This research adds to the evidence available that supports the student clinic learning model as a feasible educative method amongst health professional students from the beginning to the end of their course of study.

The evaluation also demonstrated a unique relationship between patient participants and student participants within the Student Nutrition Service. Patient participants viewed themselves as educators encouraging student participants to learn about them and develop skills of a dietitian whilst student participants felt motivated to improve their practice from observing the dietary changes the patient participants had made. This unique relationship demonstrates one of the core factors in an effective student-led health intervention model identified.

These findings are further explored in Chapter 3 and discussed in Chapter 4 to consider the effectiveness of the Student Nutrition Service. Throughout Chapter 3 key findings are featured in summary boxes. Chapter 4 also presents the candidate’s position in this case study. A new Student Nutrition Service model for patients with chronic disease to consider based on patient and student participants’ perspectives is also posed. Future directions for practice and research are posed in Chapter 5.

Keywords: Peripheral Arterial Disease, Service learning, Student Clinic, Medical Nutrition Therapy

Subject: Nutrition and Dietetics thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2021
School: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Supervisor: Michelle Miller