Development and validation of a knowledge test for health professionals regarding lifestyle modification
Steyn, Nelia P.
Charlton, Karen E.
Temple, Norman J.
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Objective: We wanted to develop and validate a test that assesses the knowledge and practices of health professionals (HPs) with regard to the role of nutrition, physical activity, and smoking cessation (lifestyle modification) in chronic diseases of lifestyle. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional validation study was carried out. The validation design consisted of two phases, namely 1) test planning and development and 2) test evaluation. The study sample consisted of five groups of HPs: dietitians, dietetic interns, general practitioners, medical students, and nurses. The overall response rate was 58%, resulting in a sample size of 186 participants. A test was designed to evaluate the knowledge and practices of HPs. The test was first evaluated by an expert group to ensure content, construct, and face validity. Thereafter, the questionnaire was tested on five groups of HPs to test for criterion validity. Internal consistency was evaluated by Cronbach’s α. Results: An expert panel ensured content, construct, and face validity of the test. Groups with the most training and exposure to nutrition (dietitians and dietetic interns) had the highest group mean score, ranging from 61% to 88%, whereas those with limited nutrition training (general practitioners, medical students, and nurses) had significantly lower scores, ranging from 26% to 80%. This result demonstrated criterion validity. Internal consistency of the overall test demonstrated a Cronbach’s α of 0.99. Most HPs identified the mass media as their main source of information on lifestyle modification. These HPs also identified lack of time, lack of patient compliance, and lack of knowledge as barriers that prevent them from providing counseling on lifestyle modification. Conclusions: The results of this study showed that this test instrument identifies groups of health professionals with adequate training (knowledge) in lifestyle modification and those who require further training (knowledge).