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Job satisfaction and perception of workloads among dietitians and nutritionists registered in South Africa

Louise van den Berg
Sindi-marie de Beer
Talitha Claassen
Jemima Meyer
Ingrid Strydom
Cornelius van Rooyen
Hermina Spies


Background: Personal perspective concerning work demands directly impacts quality health care and patient satisfaction. Little is known  about job satisfaction amongst dietitians and nutritionist, while workload has not previously been studied in this population.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was performed using an online questionnaire. Data were collected on sociodemography.  Job satisfaction was measured with Spector’s Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) (including an added subscore for resource availability) and  workload with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX).

Results: Respondents (n = 238) had a  median age of 32.0 years (IQR: 27−39 years); 92.4% were female; 95.7% were dietitians, 2.4% were nutritionists and 18.9% had a  postgraduate degree. Respondents had practised the profession for a median of 8 years (IQR 3−15 years), and 225 were in dietetic and  nutrition-related jobs. Median scores indicated that they were slightly satisfied with their jobs (n = 224) and experienced slightly high  workload (n = 224). Most respondents were moderately satisfied with the nature of their work and found it rewarding. The median scores  for salaries, promotion opportunities, work environment and availability of resources were low. Total JSS was higher in older and more experienced dietitians and nutritionists than in younger ones (p < 0.05). Those employed in the government sector (n = 100) experienced  higher physical demands and levels of frustration, and had lower JJS than those employed elsewhere (n = 124), particularly regarding  promotion opportunities and resources availability.

Conclusion: Despite being generally positive towards practising their profession,  South African dietitians and nutritionists, particularly in the public health sector, experienced only slight job satisfaction, related to salary  and promotion issues and lack of resources, and were slightly overworked. Understanding the factors that shape perceptions of work  within nutrition and dietetics may assist managers in recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce, particularly in developing  countries with overburdened healthcare systems. 

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2221-1268
print ISSN: 1607-0658