Delegation opportunities for malnutrition care activities to dietitian assistants—findings of a multi-site survey

Alita Rushton, Adrienne Young, Heather Keller, Judith Bauer, Jack Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Approximately one-third of adult inpatients are malnourished with substantial associated healthcare burden. Delegation frameworks facilitate improved nutrition care delivery and high-value healthcare. This study aimed to explore knowledge, attitudes, and practices of dietitians and dietitian assistants regarding delegation of malnutrition care activities. This multi-site study was nested within a nutrition care implementation program, conducted across Queensland (Australia) hospitals. A quantitative questionnaire was conducted across eight sites; 87 dietitians and 37 dietitian assistants responded and descriptive analyses completed. Dietitians felt guidelines to support delegation were inadequate (agreement: <50% for assessment/diagnosis, care coordination, education, and monitoring and evaluation); dietitian assistants perceived knowledge and guidelines to undertake delegated tasks were adequate (agreement: >50% food and nutrient delivery, education, and monitoring and evaluation). Dietitians and dietitian assistants reported confidence to delegate/receive delegation (dietitian agreement: >50% across all care components; dietitian assistant agreement: >50% for assessment/diagnosis, food and nutrient delivery, education, monitoring and evaluation). Practice of select nutrition care activities were routinely performed by dietitians, rather than assistants (p < 0.001 across all nutrition care components). The process for care delegation needs to be improved. Clarity around barriers and enablers to delegation of care prior to implementing reforms to the current models of care is key.

Original languageEnglish
Article number446
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Assistant
  • Delegation
  • Diet therapy
  • Dietitian
  • Hospitals
  • Malnutrition
  • Model of care
  • Nutritional support
  • Nutritionists

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