Nutritional knowledge and dietary diversity of cancer patients at the Cancer Treatment Centre, Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya

  • Caroline Wakuthie Muthike
  • J Imungi
  • G Muchemi
Keywords: Nutritional knowledge, Dietary diversity, Cancer, Dietary behavior, Cachexia


Cancer cases are on the increase in Kenya and have become one of the leading public health issues. This increase is possibly attributed to change in behavior and adoption of predisposing factors such as increase in environmental carcinogens and unhealthy lifestyles. Cancer patients undergo treatment regimes such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The treatment regimes are aggressive and result in side effects that lead to cancer cachexia. However, cancer patients are not equipped with the necessary information to handle these side effects in the required way to ensure a good nutrition status as treatment progresses. The purpose of the study was to show the relationship between nutritional knowledge and dietary diversity among cancer patients. Dietary diversity was used as an indicator of dietary practice. A cross sectional study was done on 132 patients selected through simple random sampling technique, attending the cancer treatment centre clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital from October to November 2012. Patients interviewed were either undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Interviewer administered questionnaires were administered voluntarily to the patients. Each questionnaire captured information on the patient’s socio-demographic and economic status, type of cancer, nutritional knowledge, and dietary diversity. The data was analyzed using SPSS Version16.0 (2007) statistical software. The patients were predominantly middle-aged (36-59yrs) with cancer most prevalent being breast cancer (55%) among women and prostate cancer among men (21%). The mean of total nutrition knowledge score among the cancer patients was 46±2%. The average dietary diversity score was 4±1. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient between nutrition knowledge and Dietary Diversity Score (DDS) was 0.15 (P>0.05). The patient’s nutritional knowledge was positively correlated with the dietary diversity score. This meant that patients with good nutrition knowledge had more diverse diets. However, the correlation was not statistically significant. Therefore, nutrition knowledge should be included during dietary counseling of patients to enable them improve their dietary practice.

Keywords: Nutritional knowledge, Dietary diversity, Cancer, Dietary behavior, Cachexia


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358