Beyond the clinical walls: Registered dietitian nutritionists providing medical nutrition therapy in the home setting

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BACKGROUD/OBJECTIVES: Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) are providers of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to address health and chronic disease. Traditionally, RDNs have provided care in healthcare facilities including hospitals and private care facilities. The purpose of this study was to determine how RDN individualized MNT in the home impacted nutrition, physical activity, and food security. SUBJECTS/METHODS: This is a secondary data analysis. The mean age of the participants (n = 1,007) was 51.6 years old with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 34.1 kg/m2. Individualized MNT visits were delivered by an RDN in the home setting from January to December 2019. Participants were referred by healthcare professionals or self-referred. Participants had MNT benefits covered by their health insurance plan (43.3% Medicaid; 39.8% private insurance; 7.9% Medicare, 9% other). Health outcomes related to nutrition care were measured. Outcomes included self-reported consumption of nutrition factors and physical activity. Our secondary outcome focused on food security. The changes in weight, BMI, physical activity, and nutrition factors were analyzed by a linear regression model or linear mixed model, adjusting for age, sex, baseline value, and number of appointments. Food security was summarized in a 2 by 2 contingency table. RESULTS: Baseline values had significantly negative impacts for all changes and number of appointments was significant in the changes for weight and BMI. Increases in physical activity were significant for both female and male participants, 10.4 and 12.6 minutes per day, respectively, while the changes in weight and BMI were not. Regarding dietary factors, the consumption total servings per day of vegetables (0.13) and water (3.35) significantly increased, while the consumption of total servings of whole grain (−0.27), fruit (−0.32), dairy (−0.80) and fish (−0.81) significantly decreased. About 24% (of overall population) and 45% (of Medicaid population) reported improvements in food security. CONCLUSIONS: This study found that home visits were a useful setting for MNT delivered by RDNs. There is a strong need for individualized counseling to meet the participants' needs and personal goals.

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