Perceived factors influencing hospital-based primary care clinic referrals to community health medical nutrition therapy: An exploratory study

<p>Primary care clinics provide an array of diagnostic and clinical services that assist patients in preventing the onset or managing acute and chronic conditions. Some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes require primary care professionals to seek additional medical intervention from registered dieticians. This study explored beliefs, attitudes, and practices of medical and administrative professionals in primary care clinics encountering patients who are potential candidates for ongoing nutrition education or counselling. Five focus groups with primary care providers and clinical staff (<i>n</i> = 24) were conducted to identify perceived intra-organisational factors influencing initiation of community health medical nutrition therapy (MNT) referrals. Lack of clarity regarding community health dieticians’ role in chronic disease management was the primary finding for the absence of MNT referrals. Insurance-imposed constraints, perceived patient readiness to change, and service inaccessibility were revealed as barriers that influence referrals to both community health and specialty care dieticians. This study underscores the importance of identifying organisational and interpersonal barriers that influence the initiation of community health MNT referrals. Understanding these barriers can create stronger interprofessional collaboration between primary care providers and community health dieticians.</p>