Undertaking a research project improves confidence in research skills among student dietitians
Castelli, Kate R
Thomas, Jane E
Abstract: Background: Research is a cornerstone of evidence‐based dietetic practice. Research skills are often taught at university through experiential learning during a final‐year research project. The present study aimed to investigate attitudes towards research and confidence in research skills among student dietitians before and after a research project. Methods: A questionnaire survey of student dietitians’ attitudes to research and confidence in research skills was undertaken before and after completing a research project at two universities in London, UK. Dichotomous data were compared before and after the research project using a McNemar's test. Factors associated with ‘high confidence’ or ‘improved confidence’ in overall research skills at the end of the research project were investigated using multivariable logistic regression. Results: In total, 160 student dietitians completed a questionnaire before and after their research project. The majority had positive attitudes to research both before and after their research project. There was an increase in numbers with ‘high confidence’ in overall research skills before (13; 8.1%) and after (79; 49.4%) the research project (p < 0.001), and 113 (70.6%) reported ‘improved confidence’ in overall research skills. The only factor associated with ‘high confidence’ in overall research skills was having ‘high levels of involvement in the overall research process’ (odds ratio = 6.13, 95% confidence interval = 2.03–18.49, p = 0.001). Conclusions: Student dietitians have positive attitudes towards research and undertaking a research project significantly improves confidence in their research skills. A higher level of involvement in the research project is the single most significant factor associated with high confidence in research skills.