Main content area

Development and validation of the Dietetic Confidence Scale for working with clients experiencing psychological issues

Buttenshaw, Kerryn, Ash, Susan, Shakespeare‐Finch, Jane
Nutrition & dietetics 2017 v.74 no.1 pp. 36-45
dietitians, factor analysis, models, nutrition, principal component analysis, professional development, self-efficacy, variance
AIM: A standardised tool was needed to measure a generalist dietitian's confidence about working with clients experiencing psychological issues in order to effectively evaluate mental health‐related professional development activities. The aim of this study was to develop, pilot and validate a robust instrument that measures a generalist dietitian's professional confidence for working with clients experiencing psychological issues. METHODS: The Dietetic Confidence Scale (DCS) was developed. Two cross‐sectional samples of practicing dietitians (n = 185; 458) from various settings and locations were recruited. Study 1: principal components analysis (PCA) helped refine scale items and derive a model, which was then validated using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA, Study 2). Cronbach's alpha estimated scale reliability. Correlations assessed associations between factors. RESULTS: Study 1: A 13‐item, two‐factor solution accounted for 69.1% of the total variance. Total Cronbach's α = 0.92. Dietetic confidence was associated with: (i) Confidence using the Nutrition Care Process and (ii) Confidence Advocating for Self care and Client care. Study 2: The CFA supported the proposed scale and model. A Good Fit Index of 0.95 indicated a strong fit. Item‐factor correlations ranged from r = 0.50 to 0.91. The final scale showed good reliability (α = 0.93). CONCLUSIONS: This is the first self‐efficacy scale for dietetic practitioners subjected to PCA and CFA using two independent samples. The DCS is a psychometrically robust instrument with strong internal consistency. It can be used to measure dietetic confidence about working with clients experiencing psychological issues and to highlight areas where additional support or training may be needed. Further validity and reliability testing is needed to enhance scale generalisability and use.