Physicians’ Attitudes toward and Knowledge of Plant-Based Diets

Principal Investigator: Morgan Schafer, MS

Student Investigator: Katherine Dulgeroff

Abstract: A plant-based diet (PBD) emphasizes consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods and de-emphasizes consumption of processed foods and animal products. Findings from recent studies suggest that PBDs are associated with improved health outcomes, including lower rates of overweight and obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and overall mortality.1 Studies have shown that patients are more likely to make lifestyle changes under the advice of physicians; if physicians lack knowledge about or have negative attitudes toward PBDs, they are unlikely to recommend them to their patients.44-46 This, coupled with the strong support for the positive health outcomes of a PBD, suggests that it is important to understand physicians’ attitudes and knowledge of these diets. However, a review of the literature suggests that the knowledge and attitudes of physicians toward PBDs are unknown. The primary aim of this study is to develop and assess the reliability of a self-administered, web-based survey that will collect anonymous responses to questions about physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding plant-based diets at one time point. We will determine the internal consistency of the questionnaire, compare responses between naturopathic and allopathic physicians, and assess the relationship between physicians’ attitudes and knowledge of PBDs.