Patients’ attitude towards nutritional therapy in a comprehensive sleep clinic

Patients’ attitude towards nutritional therapy in a comprehensive sleep clinic: time for a wakeup call?

Ms. Hema Deenadayalan*, Ms. Lakshmi Ranganathan, Ms. Mary Isabel,
Dr. Nagarajan Ramakrishnan

Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences, Chennai, India

Nutritional therapy is an integral component of patient care. Its goal is to aid the medical management with appropriate diet, thereby preventing complications from incorrect eating habits. Hence, it is important that, even in outpatient clinics, registered dietitians provide formal counselling and dietary treatment. It is also essential that patients understand the importance of diet treatment for compliance. The purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of patients towards the dietary treatment in an outpatient setting.

Methods: This is a retrospective study done in a free standing outpatient Sleep clinic, from October 2013 to March 2014. All new patients who presented to the Clinic were included and details like their BMI, diagnosis and prescribed treatment were collected. Patients who were advised diet modifications were monitored for follow up visits.

Results: In the study period, 181 new patients presented to the clinic for sleep problems (140 Males/ 41 Females, Age 47.4±16.12). Of these 181, 125 patients were advised to see the dietitian for diet treatment and weight reduction by the sleep specialist. All these 125 patients were overweight or obese (48.8% – overweight, 45.6% – obese and 5.6% – extremely obese). 120 out of 125 patients (96%) presented to the initial diet counselling and only 26 of them (21.6%) presented to a follow up session. Others (94) quoted lack of time (55.3%) and being unable to follow the prescribed diet guidelines (44.7%) as reasons for not presenting for follow up.

Conclusion: A significant number of overweight and obese patients accept initial diet counselling as prescribed by the Physician. However, a significant number of them do not follow up quoting lack of time and inability to comply as the primary reasons. The results suggest a lack of knowledge among healthcare seekers towards the role of nutritional therapy for wellness and disease management.