Dietetic interns’ perceptions and use of evidence-based practice: an exploratory study

Rachel J. Hinrichs


Objective: This study explored dietetic interns’ perceptions and knowledge of evidence-based practice (EBP), their use and observation of EBP principles during their clinical rotations, and their intentions to use EBP in their careers.

Methods: A mixed methods design combining a survey and focus group was employed. Dietetic interns (n=16) from a large Midwestern university were recruited in person and via email to participate in the survey, focus group, or both. Perceptions and experiences of EBP were analyzed through the focus group (qualitative), and EBP knowledge and clinical practice behaviors were analyzed through the survey (quantitative). The focus group discussion was recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Four major themes emerged from the focus group data: (1) observations of EBP in clinical practice, (2) use of EBP during clinical rotations, (3) barriers to EBP, and (4) perceived use of EBP as future registered dietitians. Interns considered EBP important for their profession and future careers. They struggled, however, with the discrepancies between current research and practice, and highlighted differences that they observed and barriers that they experienced across different clinical settings.

Conclusions: This exploratory study is the first to examine dietetic interns’ perceptions of and experiences with EBP in the clinical setting. Future research is needed to identify how dietetics educators, librarians, and preceptors can address the barriers that interns perceive in applying EBP in their internships.


Evidence-Based Practice; Attitude of Health Personnel; Dietetics; Internships, Nonmedical

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