Do images of dietitians on the Internet reflect the profession?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: The image of dietitians presented on the Internet shapes public perception of the profession, which in turn may influence engagement with professionals. The aim was to describe the portrayal of the dietetic profession on the Internet and how this aligns with international professional demographics. Methods: In this cross-sectional observational study, images appearing in two Google image searches using the word ‘dietitian’ were analysed for content by two independent researchers. A coding framework was used to identify personal characteristics of professionals and others presented in the image, as well as the work setting. These were compared to demographic data of members of professional associations in Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA). Results: The dietitian portrayed in the images (n = 339) was most often female (88%), Caucasian (72%), aged between 26–39 years (63%), pictured alone (78%), pictured with food (78%) and in a setting that could not be determined (76%). The age and gender profile presented matches the characteristics of the international workforce; however, there was an absence of images illustrating dietitians in authentic work roles. Conclusions: The images resulting from an online search for ‘dietitian’ do not fully illustrate the profession. There are opportunities to create and share authentic images online that show the breadth of work roles and diversity of professionals’ age, gender, cultural background and size.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • authentic
  • dietitian
  • images
  • Internet
  • perception
  • recruitment

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