Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia
Print version ISSN 1415-790X
SANTOS, Iná S. et al. Evaluating the efficacy of the nutritional counseling component of the "integrated management of childhood illness" strategy (WHO/UNICEF). Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2002, vol.5, n.1, pp. 15-29. ISSN 1415-790X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1415-790X2002000100004.
A randomized trial was implemented to assess the impact of the nutrition counseling component of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (WHO/UNICEF) strategy on child growth. All 28 government health centers in a southern Brazilian city were paired according to baseline nutritional indicators. One center from each pair was randomly selected and its doctors received a 20-hour training on nutrition counseling. Thirty-three doctors were included, and 12-13 patients under 18 months of age from each doctor were recruited. The study included testing the knowledge of doctors, observing consultations and visiting the children at home 8, 45 and 180 days after the initial consultation. Maternal awareness, practices and adherence to nutritional recommendations were assessed, and anthropometric measurements were taken. Daylong dietary intake was evaluated on a sub sample of children. Doctors in the intervention group had better knowledge of child nutrition, and improved assessment and counseling practices. Maternal recall of recommendations was higher in the intervention than in the control group, as was satisfaction with the consultation. Reported use of recommended foods was also increased. Daily fat intake was higher in the intervention than in the control group; mean daily intakes of energy and zinc also tended to improve. Children aged 12 months or older presented improved weight gains and a positive but non-significant improvement in length. Nutrition counseling training improved doctors' performances, maternal practices, and the diets and weight gain of children. The randomized design with blind outcome evaluation strongly supports a causal link.
Keywords : Child growth; Nutrition counseling; Randomized trial.