Challenges for efficient health service delivery: experiences of dieticians completing their compulsory community service year in South Africa

SOURCE: Public Health Nutrition
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): W.Parker, N.P.Steyn, Z.Mchiza, E.Wentzel-Viljoen, A.Dannhauser, X.Mbhenyane, G.Nthangeni, L.Moeng
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7057
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3572

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Objective: To evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the community service programme implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) in South Africa by evaluating community service dietitians 'experiences and challenges during the 2009 community service year. Design: The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research designs. A national survey was conducted using a questionnaire to illicit information on community service dietitians' working environments and the challenges they experienced. Furthermore individual interviews were conducted with a purposively selected subsample of community service dietitians to further explore issues that arose in the survey. Setting: Data were collected from community service dietitians in the public health sector in South Africa. Subjects: Dietitians completing their community service year in 2009. Results: Of the 168 community service dietitians placed in 2009, 134 (80 %) participated in the survey, while five community service dietitians in each province (n 45) were interviewed. Overall the community service dietitians were positive about the community service year and reported that it improved their confidence, skills and competencies. However, they experienced challenges related to the orientation programme, supervision/mentoring, resources available, patient referrals and communication. Conclusions: Despite the overall success of the community service year there are still challenges which the DOH needs to address in order to provide the best nutrition service possible for its patients.