​Every year, PHC point-of-care staff have the opportunity to work with a mentor to develop a research proposal centered on their clinical practice through the Practice-Based Research Challenge. From there, teams go through ethics reviews, funding proposals, and conduct research. But what happens when the research is finished? This week, two groups with published findings talk about the impact their work has on future patient care in this interview series.

For this first article, Emily Zamora, Registered Dietitian and researcher talks about the results of the study she conducted alongside her team members Naomi Oh, registered dietitian, Yeji Jang, registered dietitian, and mentor Brenda Sawatzky-Girling, PhD, MHA, BASc. Their work was submitted and shared with the Canadian Foundation of Dietetic Research at the 2021 Dietitians of Canada National Conference (page 13).

Emily and her team aimed to address their hypothesis that dietitians “liberalized” diet frequently. Liberalizing a diet means that patients/residents are able to have a more individualized and varied diet that balances quality of life and health outcomes. Essentially, a diet with wiggle room.

Read the abstract for this s​tudy​ and learn more about this work in the interview below.

What surprised you most about your f​indings?

We hypothesized that dietitians liberalized diets frequently, which was not supported by our study’s findings.  However, this study did demonstrate a discrepancy in the diets that non-dietitian healthcare providers and dietitians frequently order, requiring RDs to modify over half of admitting diet orders (59%).

How will your study impact ​​​patient care?

We have been actively advocating for a more liberalized diet ordering approach upon admission to ensure patients are not being put on overly restrictive therapeutic diets.  Currently, we have also been exploring how to expand the role of PHC dietitians, to allow dietitians to change therapeutic diets without physician co-signature, to reduce unnecessary delays in individualized patient food service.

What was the most b​​eneficial part of going through the Research Challenge program?

The Research Challenge program provided an excellent and supported start to practice-based research.  This allowed us to critically think about a problem, seek an answer, and humbly acknowledge that our hypothesis was not 100% correct.  This study also provided valuable insight into the therapeutic diet ordering practices of non-dietitian healthcare providers and dietitians.  Lastly, going through the Research Challenge program reconfirmed how amazing and dedicated our colleagues are to improving the future of healthcare.

Do you have any advice for future applicants/presenters, and those who may be on the fence about applying?

My advice to future Research Challenge applicants (or those considering applying) is to find a small team that you know you work well with and just go for it!  The Research Challenge team (especially Aggie and Wilma) are so supportive and a wealth of knowledge that will make any project seem less daunting.  This type of work builds individual and team capacity and advances healthcare greatly.  I strongly encourage all to participate in the Research Challenge.  I found so much benefit that I am currently participating in another project this year!

There is more to come from the Res​​earch Challenge!

On June 28, 15 teams presented their projects in the hopes of securing approval and funding to carry out their research. The presentations were judged by a panel comprised of scientific and Patient and Family Partner reviewers.  Stay tuned, next week there’ll be an announcement for the 2022 Research Challenge teams!​

Want more information in the meantime? Checkout Professional Practice’s Research Challenge page or read this story summarizing a few of the topics chosen this year.

Think you might like to participate in the program? Applications will open again in January 2023; stay up to date on Professional Practice’s Research Challenge page for all the details of how to apply.​