Using unfolding case studies to better prepare the public health nutrition workforce to address the social determinants of health

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ObjectiveThe public health nutrition workforce has been reported to be underprepared for practice. The present study aimed to test the ability of an unfolding case study approach to support the public health nutrition workforce for the workplace, with a focus on improved access to nutritious food.DesignTwo unfolding case studies were trialled with undergraduate students in two-hour workshops to enhance their capability to address access to nutritious food as a social determinant of health. The approach provided information about the case using a staged approach that supported learners to review and reply to information and then continue this process as the case became increasingly complex.SettingMelbourne, Australia.ParticipantsThirty-eight undergraduate nutrition and dietetics students.ResultsThe analysis revealed that the unfolding case study approach provided a place to challenge and deepen knowledge and think about the application of theory. As the cases developed and became more challenging, students were supported to consider appropriate approaches and recognised the constant evolution and dynamic nature of practice.ConclusionsThis learning activity challenged students and supported deep learning about possible solutions. It may also be useful at a graduate level and for continuous education of nutritionists and/or dietitians to empower the workforce to address the social determinants of health, rather than just acknowledging them as a set of barriers that prevent people and communities from achieving optimal health. Further work is required to investigate how unfolding case studies in curricula shape preparedness for practice of public health nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-183
Number of pages4
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Access to nutritious foods
  • Competence
  • Nutrition workforce development

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