The Dietary Assessment Software tool requirements of New Zealand Registered Dietitians
Background: Dietary assessment forms an integral component of most dietitians’ work and with increasing use of technology, dietary assessment software (DAS) tool use is also increasing. Previously published literature based on expert comments suggest that the most important features of software for dietitians are its user-friendly nature, the database, search strategy, output, price and extra support available. However there is limited literature on the use of DAS among dietitians and what dietitians themselves consider to be important component of DAS tools. Therefore whether their views of DAS experts are congruent with those of dietitians is unknown. The Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago has developed Kai-culator, a web-based DAS tool that has been developed specifically for use within a research and teaching setting. It is of interest to examine whether this tool could be adapted to meet the needs of dietitians in other settings. Aim: To determine DAS needs of current New Zealand (NZ) dietitians and to determine how Kai-culator might be adapted to better meet these requirements Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited participants via a newsletter and email through Dietitians New Zealand. Fifty-two dietitians completed a self-administered online questionnaire to determine NZ dietitians’ current dietary assessment practices, current use of DAS and their ideal DAS tool features. Eight of the participants also trialled Kai-culator and completed a semi-structured in-depth interview with the candidate to determine how they found Kai-culator and how it could be improved to better meet their needs. Results: Most participants (73%) currently use DAS, with Foodworks being the most popular. The main reasons for not using software were lack of time and that it was not suitable for their area of dietetics. Common features described as the best and worst aspects of their current software were dependent on the software used. Features reported as needing improvement overall included the food database, serving size quantification and format of output. Dietitians described their ideal DAS as being easy and intuitive to use, including a comprehensive food database and information on all nutrients presented as tables and graphs as well as comparisons of intake to nutrient reference values (NRVs). Overall, half of the eight dietitians who completed the in-depth interview found Kai-culator to be mainly suitable for their dietetic work. Common reasons dietitians considered Kai-culator suitable were the large database of NZ-specific foods, appropriate portion sizes, easy accessibility and quick to enter data. On the other hand, no comparison to NRVs, lack of nutritional supplements, specialised ‘free-from’ and paediatric products were features that hindered the suitability of Kai-culator. Conclusion: The majority of NZ dietitians surveyed were using DAS tools. This indicates that DAS forms an important component of dietetic practice. With an overall satisfaction rating of only 57% for their current DAS, there is room for improvement to ensure DAS better fits the requirements of NZ dietitians. Kai-culator’s and future DAS developers need to be mindful of ease of use, an appropriate database and providing a suitable format of output when further developing tools for use in dietetic practice.
Advisor: Fleming, Liz; Brown, Rachel; Chisholm, Alexandra
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: dietary; assessment; software; dietitians; Kai-culator; foodworks
Research Type: Thesis