Improved Access to and Impact of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Services Associated with an Integrated Care Model in a High-Risk, Minority Population



      Integrated health care models create opportunities for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to provide nutrition-related care and engage in multidisciplinary teams to improve clinical outcomes. While benefits of integrated care (IC) have been reported, little is known about the impact of the RDN within an IC model.


      Our primary objective was to identify whether IC vs traditional care (TC) increases the number of RDN patient visits. Our secondary objective was to evaluate clinical outcomes of patients seeing an RDN vs not, regardless of care model.


      This was a retrospective cohort study.


      Patients were aged 3 to 94 years and from a patient-centered medical home in Boston, MA.

      Main outcome measures

      We measured 3-month total and average number of patients seen by the RDN in TC vs IC. Changes in adult hemoglobin A1c, weight, and pediatric body mass index (measured as kg/m2) among high-risk patients seen by an RDN compared to patients not seen by an RDN.

      Statistical analysis

      Data were obtained from electronic medical records and analyzed utilizing Mann-Whitney U test, analysis of covariance, and paired sample t tests.


      The RDN saw 145 patients (137 adult, 8 pediatric) in the TC model compared to 185 patients (135 adult, 50 pediatric) in the IC model. Mean number of patients seen per session was 3.20 in the TC model vs 4.63 in the IC model (P=0.004). Adult hemoglobin A1c within-group differences decreased by 0.42%±1.49% (P=0.007) for patients seen by an RDN and decreased 0.15%±1.47% (P=0.012) for patients not seen by an RDN. Adult weight within-group differences decreased 1.0±7.2 kg (P=0.15) for patients seen by a RDN and increased 0.1±5.6 kg (P=0.70) for patients not seen by a RDN. Pediatric BMI showed no change between or within groups.


      The IC model increased 3-month total number of patients seen by an RDN. High-risk patients who saw an RDN had a significant decrease in hemoglobin A1c.


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      M. F. Warner is a pediatric dietitian, Upham’s Corner Health Center, Dorchester, MA, and a graduate student, Simmons College, Boston, MA.


      K. E. Miklos is a graduate student, Simmons College, Boston, MA.


      S. R. Strowman is an associate professor of practice, Department of Nutrition, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Simmons College, Boston, MA.


      R. M. Pojednic is an assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Simmons College, Boston, MA.


      K. Ireland is nutrition program manager, Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester, MA.