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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


KELLER, Ingrid  and  LEGETIC, Branka. Training Chilean primary health care professionals in nutrition for noncommunicable disease prevention. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.4, pp.242-249. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To assess three related issues: (1) the need for training in nutrition and prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) as perceived by primary health care (PHC) personnel in Chile, (2) those health workers' preferred sources of training to learn about that subject, and (3) reactions to some materials that were later developed to help meet the needs that were identified. METHODS: In the summer of 2001 a questionnaire survey was used with PHC staff members in 3 of Chile's 13 regions in order to evaluate their perceived need for training in nutrition and NCD prevention as well as their preferred sources of continuing education. As a follow-up to the 2001 survey, in 2002, information material was prepared on using diet and physical activity to prevent NCDs. The information package was introduced through a series of workshops in all the regions of Chile. An evaluation in 2003 assessed the reactions to the new material. RESULTS: Four hundred thirty-one valid questionnaires from the 2001 survey were analyzed. The participants reported a strong need for further education in the area of nutrition for NCD prevention. The perceived need for further training was highest among nursing aides, and it was lowest among nutritionists. Most of the health personnel reported that patients often asked them about dietary issues, most frequently how to lose weight and how to follow a healthy diet. The sources of continuing education that the health workers had used most frequently were professional journals, information from the Ministry of Health, and courses. In comparison to the university-trained health professionals, the non-university-trained nursing aides differed significantly in their perceived need for more training, as well as the sources that they had used for continuing education (P <0.05 for both). The evaluation in 2003 to assess the reactions to the new information material found a generally favorable response to the package. CONCLUSIONS: The Chilean PHC personnel perceived a strong need for training in nutrition as related to NCD prevention. In response, various activities are now being carried out, with goals that include enhancing the knowledge of PHC workers about possibilities for NCD prevention, encouraging a team approach to prevention, and offering more community-oriented services.

Keywords : Education [professional]; health personnel; nutrition; chronic disease; health promotion; Chile.

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