Background: The present study aimed to determine the eHealth readiness
and changes over time of dietitians in Australia.
Methods: Two cross-sectional analyses of Australian dietitians were conducted
in 2013 and 2016, using a survey adapted from one conducted in
2011 by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The survey encompassed
30 questions on eHealth readiness across five dimensions: access, standards,
attitude, aptitude and advocacy. Descriptive statistics, independent
t-tests, chi-squared tests and Z-tests were computed to compare responses
from the 2013 and 2016 surveys.
Results: The survey completion rate represented 14.5% (747) of the Dietitians
Association of Australia members in 2013 and 8% (417) in 2016. The
survey responses in relation to access and standards suggest that dietitians
are well positioned for eHealth. For attitude and aptitude, there is a moderate
level of preparedness, with minor improvements over time. Although
showing significant improvement (P < 0.05), advocacy highlights the area
requiring the most development because the majority of dietitians (61%)
reported ‘no role’ in eHealth solutions.
Conclusions: Dietitians are progressing in relation to access, attitudinal and
aptitudinal readiness for eHealth, although they rate poorly with respect to
advocacy readiness. It was concluded that dietitians are not yet ready, and
also that valuable opportunities to achieve the benefits that eHealth can
deliver will be missed, if dietitians do not take the lead in guiding the development,
selection and implementation of nutrition-related technologies.
Strengthening the dimension of advocacy and ensuring collaboration across
the profession, drawing on the varying expertise demonstrated across the
practice areas and by the different generations, will be central to improving
dietitian eHealth readiness.