Perceptions of private practice dietitians regarding the collection and use of outcomes data in primary healthcare practices: A qualitative study

Peter W. Clark, Lauren T. Williams, Amy Kirkegaard, Bryce Brickley, Lauren Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Dietitians working in private practices in primary settings provide nutrition care to support individuals with the prevention and management of chronic disease. A better understanding of the type and usage of data collected by dietitians in this setting may provide insights to optimise the effectiveness and impact of the workforce. The present study explored the perceptions of leading Australian private practice dietitians on the collection and usage of data in their practice. 

Methods: A qualitative descriptive study of Australian private practice dietitians, recruited by snowball sampling, was conducted on their perceptions and attitudes towards collecting and using data. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews and all interview data were thematically analysed. 

Results: Twenty-three dietitians participated. Five themes emerged: (i) collecting data is challenging, nuanced, unclearly defined and therefore not routinely carried out; (ii) consistent data collection processes are impeded by the diversity of practise and practices; (iii) business-related data collection is essential for sustainable dietetic services; (iv) clinical outcomes are fundamental to dietetic services; and (v) standardised, integrated systems are needed to enable routine data collection and synthesis. 

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate the rudimentary role business acumen has in practice viability and provides evidence to potentially re-shape the future of dietetic education in Australia. Private practice dietitians may benefit from tools and training that enable consistent collection of data about their services. Such data could enable benchmarking across the workforce and contribute to a broader understanding of dietetic impact on public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • benchmarking
  • business acumen
  • data collection
  • perceptions
  • qualitative research


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