|In 2000, the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA) was created with a mandate to enhance the image of the dietetic profession around the world through increased awareness of standards of education, training and dietetic practice. To that end, ICDA has created a definition of Dietitian, standards for the education of dietitians, a code of ethics, and a code of good practice in nutrition and dietetics. During this same period of time, there has been an overwhelming call for all health disciplines to adopt evidence-based approaches in the care they deliver. Several of the statements in the International Confederation of Dietetic Association’s Codes of Ethics and Good Practice speak to the need to ground dietetic practice in evidence:
* “Develop practice based on evidence
* Interpret, apply, participate in or generate research to enhance practice
* Competently apply the knowledge of nutrition and dietetics and integrate this knowledge with other disciplines in health and social sciences
* Systematically evaluate the quality of practice and revise practice on the basis of this feedback
* Provide services based on the expectation and needs of the community or client”
From: 2008 International Code of Ethics and Code of Good Practice
Thus it was a natural next step for the ICDA Board to commission a working group to create an international definition of evidence-based dietetic practice in June of 2009. This definition will be developed by expert representatives from national dietetic associations around the world, validated with members of these national dietetic associations and promoted by ICDA as a component of its standard of good practice in dietetics.
Currently, 32 volunteers have come forward from more than 15 countries to lend their expertise to the task. They bring knowledge of the many roles that dietitians may have around the world and the many kinds of evidence that dietitians use every day in their practices. The working group’s goal is to create a broad definition of evidence-based dietetic practice in order to meet the needs of all dietitians, regardless of practice area.
The working group is being chaired by two member representatives from Dietitians of Canada. Our first step was to survey working group members about existing definitions, and how they were developed and are currently used. We learned that five countries have developed or adopted a definition of evidence-based dietetic practice. These definitions were either borrowed from other definitions or a process was followed whereby a search of existing definitions was completed; member input was then sought and the most suitable definition was adopted. These definitions of evidence-based dietetic practice are used:
* to improve patient care
* to evaluate the dietetic process
* to develop best practice guidelines
* to guide dietetic practice (code of conduct, scope of practice)
When the working group was asked: Why do you think it is important that an international definition of evidence-based dietetic practice be developed? They responded:
* To have a common language.
* To share experiences.
* To improve professional practice of dietitians.
* To make it easier to collect data on the impact of dietetic practice.
* To empower dietitians around the world.
* To enhance the prestige of our profession.
The working group will build its recommended definition through consensus means. Member national dietetic associations will be consulted at least once during the process. A final definition will be presented to the ICDA Board in January of 2012, followed by final review and approval by official representatives at the ICDA annual meeting in Sydney Australia September 2012.
Debbie MacLellan & Jayne Thirsk
Chairpersons of the Working Group