Natural Health Products: Practices, Perceptions and Training Needs of Registered Dietitians

Valerie Dussault, Marie Marquis


Canadians have access to thousands of authorized natural health products (NHPs) and are also surrounded by many unauthorized NHPs, which may place them at risk of adverse effects. Consumers expect health professionals, including nutritionists, to be a source of information on NHPs. Current training programs suggest that registered dietitians may have little knowledge about NHPs. The Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Quebec (OPDQ) sent an electronic survey to registered dietitians who are members of the OPDQ to document their use, referral habits and sources of information for NHPs. The survey also explored respondents’ perceptions of professional roles regarding NHPs as well as their perceptions of the effectiveness of specific NHPs. It measured their need for training on specific NHPs and on the health conditions that may be improved by NHPs. Data were analyzed with SPSS, through which descriptive statistics were obtained. A qualitative analysis was performed on the open-ended questions from the survey. A total of 295 questionnaires were analyzed. Among nutritionists, 93% have received requests for information about NHPs, 91% use or have used NHPs and 94% have recommended them. Also, 95% need training on NHPs and for various health considerations. Overall, they have a positive perception of their roles regarding this subject, with 77% indicating that the nutritionist should be a reliable source of information for NHPs. The major findings of our study are that the roles of Quebec nutritionists relating to NHPs are not clearly defined. Nutritionists need training on NHPs to provide sound nutritional advice for NHP users and, therefore, should develop a new area of nutritional practice. 

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Copyright (c) 2017 Valerie Dussault, Marie Marquis

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Journal of Food Research   ISSN 1927-0887 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0895 (Online)  E-mail:

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