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Increasing nutritional support for patients undergoing radiation therapy: the radiation therapist perspective

  • Shane E. Dempsey (a1), Naomi Findlay (a1) and Lesley MacDonald-Wicks (a2)

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine radiation therapists’ knowledge on the nutritional management of side effects for patients receiving treatment to the gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary system and to determine the willingness of radiation therapists’ to participate in nutritional training.

Method: A cross-sectional survey at a Radiation Oncology Treatment Centre was performed coupled with a semi-structured interview to explore radiation therapists’ knowledge and experiences related to patient nutritional care.

Results: Eighty-one percent of participants agreed that they were often asked by patients for advice on eating. The majority of participants recognised that providing adequate nutrition support would be beneficial in terms of patient outcomes (91%) and ongoing patient compliance with nutrition advice (81%). However, participants demonstrated low confidence in providing nutrition support. Eighty-six percent of radiation therapists had not received any training on nutritional interventions and 100% of radiation therapists were interested in receiving more training.

Conclusion: This research indicates that radiations therapists are often asked for nutritional advice by patients and recognise the associated benefits but are not confident in providing advice. Our findings reveal an opportunity for radiation therapists to provide scripted nutrition advice to patients to reinforce recommendations made by dietitian.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Naomi Findlay, School of Health Science, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW, Australia 2308. E-mail:
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Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice
  • ISSN: 1460-3969
  • EISSN: 1467-1131
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-radiotherapy-in-practice
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