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Sunday, October 9 Clinical Care; Communications; Critical Thinking and Decision Making; Ethics and Professionalism; Food, Nutrition and Dietetics and Physical Activity; Leadership and Advocacy| Volume 122, ISSUE 9, SUPPLEMENT , A20, September 2022

Influences on Health Behaviors of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist during the COVID-19 Pandemic

      Learning Outcome

      Upon completion, participants will be able to describe the Registered Dietitian Nutrition's experiences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health behaviors.

      Background

      The COVID-19 era presents a unique opportunity to explore the experiences of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and investigate the influences of stress and life disruption on RDNs’ health behaviors.

      Methods

      This qualitative study analyzed two open-ended questions, part of a more extensive 57- item cross-sectional survey distributed from January 2021 to February 2021, to assess the pandemic experience among RDNs. AtlasTi9 was used to analyze the data using a content analysis approach.

      Results

      Of 477 respondents, 255 and 203 answered Q1 and Q2, respectively. Q1 asked RDNs who experienced pandemic-period weight change to share views on reasons for weight change. Q2 asked how the pandemic impacted RDNs weight, eating habits, physical activity, or general health. The qualitative data yielded eight themes. Two themes indicated improved healthy habits, such as increased physical activity and improved eating habits. In contrast, six themes explored disruptions in healthy habits such as decreased physical activity, unfavorable eating habits, changes in alcohol use, the impact of job/family/schedule disruption, mental health influences, and new-onset or burden of health/medical conditions.

      Conclusion

      Although challenges presented by pandemic-related disruptions in routine/responsibilities and mental health influences were reported, warranting additional study, positive health adaptations, such as increased physical activity and improved eating habits, were revealed among this RDN population, and not commonly experienced by the general population during the COVID-era. Further exploration into these influences and strategies to support the preservation of RDNs' health behaviors during stressful times is needed.

      Funding source

      None