Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Jane R. Savage

Committee Members

Jerry Bellon, John T. Smith, Mary Nelle Traylor, Betty Ruth Carruth


This research focused on a comparison of clinical dietetic practice in hospitals and in public health agencies, and a comparison of clients' needs and problems in high-priority performance situations in actual practice with those anticipated for the future in Tennessee. Information about clinical practice was explored using role theory and systems methodology to relate concepts and processes in development.

Two surveys were conducted to obtain information about current practice and expectations for future events in Tennessee. Generally, the nature of clinical dietetic practice in short-term care hospitals and in public health agencies could not be differentiated by considering the nature of practitioners--their demographic characteristics, credentials, and roles in practice. However, a distinction between groups was made based on a comparison of highest-priority performance situations in practice. Most of the 20 highest-priority clients' needs and problems anticipated for counseling intervention in the future were being addressed at some level in actual dietetic practice.

The implications of the results for educational development in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences (NFS), The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were considered. The explication of generic processes within a framework of common educational goals may facilitate the articulation of programs within NFS as well as the articulation of NFS programs with those of other disciplines and professions. The use of creative approaches to educational development, which focus on the relationship between the practitioner and the client system, will enhance the ability of the university to address societal needs and expectations. In this manner, the education, service, and client systems may be linked to facilitate human development and to improve the human condition.

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