Consensus on the core functions of the public health nutrition workforce in Australia
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Aim: To assess consensus among public health nutrition workforce development stakeholders on public health nutrition workforce core functions, and the level of competency attainment required to perform each function in different practice jurisdictions. Methods: A modified Delphi study involving three iterative survey rounds among a purposively sampled expert panel of 33 public health nutrition workforce development stakeholders. Surveys tested panellist ratings of a listing of 50 function statements derived from the literature, across two survey rounds (rounds 1 and 2), with feedback between rounds. Rounds 2 and 3 assessed panellist ratings of the level of competency attainment required to perform functions across pre-defined district, provincial and national practice jurisdictions. An arbitrary consensus cut-off of >50% was applied with <10% change between rounds interpreted as agreement stability. Results: Eighteen of a total list of 50 functions were rated as 'core' by a majority (>50%) of panellists, with six categorised as analytical, five as capacity building and eight as intervention management functions. The level of competency attainment required to effectively perform these 19 core functions increased consistently as the jurisdiction of practice increased in population coverage (district < provincial < national). Conclusions: Public health nutrition workforce development stakeholders in Australia agree that there are a number of consistent core functions of the public health nutrition workforce that help define the work of public health nutritionists. They also recognise that the competency expectations for practice vary in different practice jurisdictions. The results provide an empirical basis for prioritising and designing future workforce development targeting specific practice jurisdictions.
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