Knowledge Translation and Evidence-Based Practice: A Qualitative Study on Clinical Dietitians’ Perceptions and Practices in Switzerland



      Knowledge translation (KT) in health care is essential to promote quality of care and reduce the knowledge-to-practice gap. Little is known about KT among dietitians, and a better understanding of how this process pans out is fundamental to support their clinical practice.


      To explore clinical dietitians’ perceptions and practices concerning preferences and access to information sources in clinical practice, KT activities, research in nutrition and dietetics, and evidence-based practice (EBP).

      Design, participants, and setting

      Eight interviews and two focus groups involving a total of 15 participants were conducted in 2013 among members of the Swiss Association for Registered Dietitians in the French- and German-speaking regions of Switzerland.

      Analysis performed

      Thematic analysis drawn from a constructivist grounded theory approach.


      Information from colleagues and experts of the field were favored when facing unfamiliar situations in clinical practice. Critically selecting evidence-based information was considered challenging, but dietitians declared they were at ease to integrate patients’ preferences and values, and their clinical expertise and judgment, in decision making, which are fundamental elements of EBP. A major reported barrier to KT was the perception that time to identify and read scientific literature was not expected during working hours and that instead, this time should be spent in clinical activities with patients. On the other hand, dietitians identified that their frequent involvement in educational activities such as knowledge dissemination or tailoring favored the integration of evidence into practice. Finally, dietitians struggled more to identify evidence-based information about counseling and communication than about biomedical knowledge.


      Dietitians mentioned being involved in each step of the KT process (ie, synthesis, dissemination, exchange, and ethically sound application of knowledge). Barriers and facilitators identified in this study need to be explored in a larger population to develop strategies to facilitate KT and EBP in dietetics practice.


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      L. Soguel is a PhD candidate, Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF), School of Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture & Food Sciences, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada; and an associate professor, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO), Geneva, Switzerland.


      C. Vaucher is a research associate, Department Epidemiology and Health Systems, and Cochrane Switzerland, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; and a PhD candidate, University of Lausanne, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Institute of Social Sciences, THEMA lab, Lausanne, Switzerland.


      T. Bengough is a research associate, Department Epidemiology and Health Systems, and Cochrane Switzerland, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; a researcher, Austrian Public Health Institute, Vienna, Austria; and a PhD candidate, Katholic University Leuven, Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Leuven, Belgium.


      B. Burnand is a full professor, Department Epidemiology and Health Systems, and Cochrane Switzerland, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


      S. Desroches is a professor, INAF, School of Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture & Food Sciences, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada.

      Linked Article

      • Dietary Assessment Methodology in Response to November 2019 Issue
        Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsVol. 120Issue 6
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          The November 2019 issue of JAND neatly frames the issues surrounding the methods by which researchers measure food intake and dietary patterns. Kirkpatrick and colleagues’ article, “Best Practices for Conducting and Interpreting Studies to Validate Self-Report Dietary Assessment Methods,”1 sets a framework for the remainder of the issue, which includes assessment and associations of specific nutrient and diet patterns in the United States,2 Korea,3 Mexico,4 Brazil,5 and China,6 as well as knowledge translation in Switzerland.
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