Evaluation of nutritional literacy among undergraduate nursing students

Kelli D. Whittington, Dawn C. Null


Background/Objective: It is difficult to describe or quantify the extensiveness and importance of the nurses’ role in direct patient care. Although Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are available, it is often the nurse who is tasked with monitoring a patient’s nutritional status and carrying out nutrition interventions to optimize oral intake such as providing meals and oral supplements, as well as administering enteral and parenteral nutrition. Therefore, it is critical that nurses have an understanding of nutrition to promote good health. Although fundamental nursing courses stress the nurse’s role in promoting healthy nutrition as a means to prevent disease and assist patients in sustaining wellness, there is no standardized nursing curriculum enforcing an independent nutrition course within nursing programs.

Methods: A quantitative methodology was used to explore the level of nutritional awareness as measured by the Nutritional Literacy Assessment Instrument (NLit) among BSN nursing students in a public, 4-year institution in the Mid-West of the United States. Nutritional literacy, as defined by Gibbs et al., students’ knowledge of food and associated impact on nutrition was evaluated. 

Results: The data indicated that 70% of participants had completed an undergraduate nutrition course, with the highest performance on the Nutritional Literacy Survey within the understanding of food groups.  Over 80% of respondents were found to have a likelihood of good nutrition literacy. Although no statistical significance was found between a pre-requisite Nutrition course and/or an integrated Nursing Nutrition course and Nutritional Literacy, statistical significance was found when examining student classification (sophomores versus seniors) impact on Nutritional Literacy scores.

Conclusions: Promoting the integration of nutrition concepts across a variety of courses within the nursing curriculum will assist the student to utilize clinical judgment in the application and synthesis of nutritional concepts in relation to patient health and wellness.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v14n7p22

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

Copyright © Sciedu Press 
To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'Sciedupress.com' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.