Nurse-led coaching to improve dietary protein intake and reduce the risk of sarcopenia in middle-aged women

Kelley L. Jackson, Sareen S. Gropper, Deborah D’Avolio, Dennis Hunt, David Newman


Background and objective: An adequate dietary protein intake is critical to preventing sarcopenia, a condition characterized by reductions in muscle mass, strength, and function. The objectives of this investigation were to determine the effectiveness and how telephone-based diet coaching by a nurse practitioner contributed to improving dietary protein intakes in middle-aged women.

Methods: Middle-aged women were recruited, and those randomized to receive nutrition education (including a protein prescription) and weekly diet coaching (focused on improving protein intake) provided weekly responses to three semi-structured interview questions. Qualitative content analysis was used to examine the responses to these questions. Dietary protein intake was analyzed at baseline and the end of the 12-week study from three 24-hour diet recalls at each time point using diet-analysis software and repeated measures analysis of variance.

Results: Coached participants (n = 25) significantly increased dietary protein intake (55.3 ± 10.3 g at baseline to 83.7 ± 14.5 g/day at the end of the study); 19 of the 25 participants (76%) met their recommended dietary protein prescription by the study’s end. Three themes “Identifying Opportunities for Behavior Change”, “Beneficial Behavior Changes”, and “Tailoring Individual Interventions” were identified as a result of the coaching and led to the overarching theme “Empowered by Knowledge, Successful by Support” depicting how coaching contributed to the behavior changes.

Conclusions: Nurse-led coaching is an effective approach enabling middle-aged women to improve dietary protein intake. These improvements are especially important in reducing the risk for the development of sarcopenia.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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