Registered dietitians' educational levels and beliefs about calcium and vitamin D supplementation relative to their intentions to recommend such supplements to patients with or at risk of osteoporosis
Falk, Ruthe Ann
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Objective: To examine whether registered dietitians’ educational levels or beliefs concerning calcium and vitamin D supplementation are related to their intended behavior in recommending calcium and/or vitamin D supplements to patients with or at risk for osteoporosis. Design: A survey questionnaire developed by the researcher was used to survey the participants about their level of education, beliefs relating to the benefits and safety of calcium and vitamin D supplementation, and intended behavior with regard to recommending calcium and vitamin D supplements. Composite scores of Likert-type responses were used in the data analysis. Subjects: Three hundred twenty registered dietitians were randomly selected from the American Dietetic Association’s Dietetic Practice Group (DPG), Dietitians in General Clinical Practice. One hundred seventy-one surveys (53%) were returned. Six respondents failed to complete one or more items and were, therefore, not included in some of the data analysis. Statistical analyses: Frequencies and percentages were used to examine demographic characteristics of the survey respondents. Pearson’s correlation and one-way analysis of variance were used to assess the relationships between the variables being studied. Results: Most of the respondents (76.6%) agreed or strongly agreed that it is the registered dietitian’s responsibility to recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements when indicated. The surveyed dietitians were more likely to recommend calcium supplements to patients than to recommend vitamin D supplements. A significant but moderate correlation (r = .57) was found between registered dietitians’ beliefs about calcium and vitamin D supplementation and intended behavior to recommend the supplements to patients. No significant correlation was found between educational levels and intended behavior. Conclusions: Although beliefs are positively correlated with registered dietitians’ intended behavior toward recommending calcium and/or vitamin D supplements, other factors need to be determined. Such research would benefit dietitians, educators and, most importantly, persons with or at risk for osteoporosis.