Identification of Leadership Priorities For Dietetics Education: a Delphi Study Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (Ph.D., Adult & Organizational Learning & Leadership - M.S. & Specialist)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | Leadership development is important for the profession of dietetics. However, specific leadership skills needed by entry-level registered dietitians are not clear. A Delphi study was conducted to define leadership for dietetics and identify leadership knowledge, skills, training, and experiences required for dietetics education programs. Panelists were comprised of practitioners serving in professional leadership positions and educators in dietetics programs (N=105). Forty panelists (38% response rate) participated by completing three rounds of questionnaires. In round 1, panelists were asked to define leadership for dietetics, and identify leadership knowledge, skills, training and experiences essential for educational programs. Content analysis was conducted to identify themes. Rounds 2 and 3 asked panelists to rate each statement on importance for entry-level practice and necessity for dietetics education programs, respectively. Rounds 2 and 3 were analyzed using descriptive statistics to identify priority statements reaching consensus of 80% or higher. Additionally, a chi-square analysis was conducted to identify relationships between round 2 and round 3 responses. Experts identified promoting teamwork and collaboration, professionalism, and honesty as important in a definition of leadership. Twenty-five statements of leadership knowledge, skills, training, and experiences reached consensus as being absolutely necessary for dietetics education, particularly with an emphasis on communication, teamwork, critical thinking, professional ethics, life-long learning, evidence-based practice, nutritional science and medical nutrition therapy, organizational skills, goal setting, and nutrition education. Highly valued leadership priorities were observed (p<0.05) based on chi square analysis for knowledge of medical nutrition therapy; knowledge of how to speak confidently; written, oral, and electronic media communication skills; projects requiring critical thinking and decision making; projects requiring assessment, goal setting and implementation; and development of patient education materials. An additional chi-square analysis was conducted to observe relationships between ratings of panel groups by leadership role. Discrepancies were observed between practitioners' and educators' ratings in 31 out of 202 leadership statements indicating contrasting leadership perspectives based on professional role with mostly higher ratings by practitioners. This research reaffirms the importance of leadership for dietetics practice, provides evidence to support leadership curriculum development for dietetics programs, and sets ground work for future exploration of leadership development both within education programs and for dietetic practitioners.

publication date

  • June 1, 2014