Aim: This study aimed to identify how dietitians and other healthcare providers work to build trust in food systems in the course of providing dietary education.
Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 purposefully sampled dietitians (n = 5), general practitioners (n = 5), and complementary and alternative medicine practitioners (n = 5) within metropolitan South Australia. Interview data were then interpreted using an inductive thematic analysis approach, involving the construction of themes representing trust-enhancing roles around which beliefs about professional roles, the ‘patient’, and food and health were clustered.
Results: Healthcare providers communicate beliefs regarding (dis)trust in food systems through: (i) responding to patient queries and concerns following a food incident or scare; (ii) helping patients to identify (un)trustworthy elements of food supply systems; and (iii) encouraging consumption of locally produced and minimally processed food. Importantly, the expression of these roles differed according to participant beliefs about food and health (medico-scientific versus alternative medicine) and their adoption of professional projects that sought to promote medico-scientific ways of thinking about health and diet or manage the failures of Western medicine.
Conclusion: The development and consolidation of trust-enhancing roles amongst healthcare providers likely requires disciplinary reflection on professional values and the processes by which practitioners apply these values to understanding food systems.
- complementary and alternative medicine
- food system
- professional role
- qualitative research