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Kirsten Whitehead

Lecturer in Dietetics, Faculty of Science



Kirsten Whitehead

Kirsten has over 23 years of clinical experience as a Registered Dietitian covering a variety of clinical issues but having specialist experience in community dietetics, obesity and cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

Much of the work has included training and education (qualified health care professionals, undergraduate students and the general public) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education was completed in 2008. Was a facilitator on courses for behaviour change skills for 12 years

Completed a Master in Public health degree in 2000 which included a dissertation evaluating a Lifestyle Modification Programme for patients with coronary heart disease risk factors.

Worked as a Clinical audit officer for a year supporting audits aimed at improving patient care.

Completed a PhD looking at the role of communication and behaviour change skills in dietetic interventions. Two papers have been published from this work

Teaching at the University of Nottingham since 2000.

Expertise Summary

Knowledge and/or clinical experience in a variety of areas including obesity, CVD, HIV/AIDS, community dietetics, clinical audit, public health and health promotion.

Developing knowledge and skills in relation to teaching and assessing communication skills for behaviour change. Has developed a validated tool to assess communication skills within dietetic consultations and an accompanying training package.

Experience in survey design and developing skills in qualitative research methods

Recently Kirsten has written chapters for several key nutrition and dietetic text books. These are on subjects including group education, public health, and behavior change

Teaching Summary

Kirsten's main areas of interest are around communication skills, health promotion and community nutrition. She leads the communication skills teaching and has undertaken research in this area.

Kirsten was a community dietitian for many years and this affects how she teaches on the Changing behaviour, promoting health module. She is able to bring some real life practical experience which hopefully makes it more interesting for students.

Kirsten also teaches other sessions on a variety of modules. These are all areas that she has experience of in the previous dietetic posts e.g. HIV/AIDS, nutrition education

Research Summary

Kirsten developed and validated a tool for assessing communication and behaviour change skills in dietetic consultations. She won the Rose Simmonds award for the resulting paper in 2015.

Kirsten has used this validated tool to develop an open access training package which is being used in many universities across the UK and has been accredited by the British Dietetic Association as a learning tool. She is also undertaking evaluation of the training package in order to direct future developments. A grant from the BDA General Education Trust supported this work.

Recent Publications

Past Research

Survey of BDA members on views of communication skills for behaviour change completed in 2007 and published in 2009.

Future Research

Kirsten is hoping to undertake a survey of all members of the British Dietetic Association in 2017 which will be a repeat of one completed in 2007. This will identify the views of the membership on the use of communication skills for behaviour change in dietetic practice and these will be compared to the results of the previous survey 10 years ago.

  • WHITEHEAD, K, A., LANGLEY-EVANS, S. C., TISCHLER, V. and SWIFT, J. A., 2013. Assessing communication skills in dietetic consultations: the development of the reliable and valid DIET-COMMS tool Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Early view online, DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12136
  • PRIDGEON A AND WHITEHEAD K.A., 2012. A qualitative study to investigate the drivers and barriers to healthy eating in two public sector workplaces"
  • WHITEHEAD, K., LANGLEY-EVANS, S.C., TISCHLER, V. and SWIFT, J.A., 2009. Communication skills for behaviour change in dietetic consultations Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 22(6), 493-500
  • GRIFFIN, B.A., WHITEHEAD, K.A., LINDSAY, G. and GAW, A., 2004. Lifestyle Management: Diet. In: Coronary Heart Disease Prevention, a handbook for the health care professional 2nd.
  • WHITE, G. and WHITEHEAD, K., 2001. Enteral tube feeding training for nurses and care assistants British Journal of Community Nursing. VOL 6(NUMB 11), 557-564

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LE12 5RD, UK

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