Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

How does the consideration of a patient's quality of life impact and influence our care as dietitians?

Carmel Simpson
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Wollongong
Supervisors: Eleanor Beck, Anne Swain
November 2015

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Background: Understanding patients holistically requires assessment of not just symptoms but emotional-wellbeing and social factors. These indices can be summarised using quality of life (QoL) tools that aim to measure the patient's view of their health. These tools support dietetic practice by prioritising patient concerns, monitoring change, and facilitating communication. Food intolerance (FI) involves adverse reaction to foods and food chemicals, resulting in symptoms that can affect patient's lives. Currently, there are no specific QoL tools to assess patients with FI.

Aim: To support patient-centred care through exploration of patient's QoL, reflective practice and development of an FI-QoL tool.

Methods: Exploratory-sequential mixed methodology was employed to develop the FI-QoL tool. Qualitative analysis of literature and interviews/focus group with experienced clinicians reflecting on QoL in FI patients was followed by a Delphi process to prioritise questions for the tool. Finally, QoL of patients with various conditions was considered from reflections on dietetics professional placements.

Results: Forty-five QoL tools were identified in the literature and discussions regarding QoL with 14 clinicians identified themes and questions for the FI-QoL. Consensus of FI-QoL items was determined by two rounds of the Delphi process and expert panel review, resulting in the 44-question FI-QoL tool. Placement reflections, affirmed that QoL is difficult to measure but an important indicator of clinical outcomes.

Conclusions and clinical implications: As dietitians, QoL tools assist in the critical task of understanding patients, their needs and preferences. Specifically, the FI-QoL tool will help dietitians understand impacted QoL areas to provide individualised patient-centred care.