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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Teresa Kemmer


The intent of this research project was to 1) determine nutrition education training of registered dietitians’ from five neighboring states in the Midwest and West regions (Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming), 2) identify registered dietitians’ nutrition education skills, and 3) determine if they are using health coaching techniques and concepts in their practice.
A self-reported internet-based survey was administered to registered dietitians residing in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming through their state Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics listserv. The survey was distributed to approximately 1,774 registered dietitians and included questions specific to previous educational training in techniques, styles, and methods used when counseling patients. Data analyses exploring correlations between survey variables were conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, version 19).
Responses from 315 registered dietitians were included in the final analysis, yielding an 18% response rate; 96.8% of respondents were female. The mean (±SD) age of respondents was 44.2 ±14.29. Registered dietitians’ years of experience ranged from zero to 66 years (mean 17.53±13.24). Of the total respondents, 80.9% work directly with patients. There were no significant statistical differences in respondents between states for age, gender, years of practice, or length of time worked in current position. There was a statistically significant difference in Doctoral degree respondents in their competencies of active listening (p=0.002), problem solving (p=0.001), and in extracting motivational statements (p=0.02). Those who held a Master’s or Doctoral degree reported a higher proficiency level of competency in using the stages of change (p=0.02).
Overall registered dietitians strive to use a client-centered approach in delivering nutrition education, rather than discussing, advising, or instructing. The use of a client-centered approach is also an essential component to coaching. Registered dietitians are familiar with and perceive themselves as competent in several key skills and techniques utilized in health coaching. The registered dietitians that are skilled in and using health coaching techniques should recognize and promote themselves as health coaches. Further research should compare registered dietitians’ health coaching skill level with those referring to themselves as “health coaches”.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nutrition -- Study and teaching
Health coaches


Includes bibliographical references (pages 25-27)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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