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Research Article Open Access
Objective: This study aims to explore the thoughts and perspectives of dietitians working in palliative care with respect their roles and contributions.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Seven European dietitians who worked in palliative care services were interviewed.
Results: Dietitians functioned as members of teams and performed activities such as nutritional assessment, formulation and monitoring of nutritional support plans, interfacing with food services, research and training. Dietitians viewed their professional input as positive to the team’s standard of care, patients’ outcomes and sense of comfort, and families’ satisfaction levels. They conveyed the desire to have a stronger and more established presence in palliative care and identified the need to clarify the benefits of their roles to palliative care, and documented a lack of continued professional development and network opportunities.
Conclusion: This study offers useful insights into the unique role of dietitians in specialist palliative across a number of domains, and highlights unique competencies required by dietitians working with this patient population. It also identifies several needs related to professional development. More research is needed to further document not only the roles of dietitians in palliative care, but importantly their impact on patient outcomes.
Dietitians Palliative care, Cancer, Professional practices, Professional role, Professional competence, Qualitative study, Palliative care, Palliative medicine