The present study explores the supply and demand of nutritional advice and guidance in Scottish family planning services.

A postal survey of 227 nurses identified as working in family planning clinics in Scotland was conducted in 1998. After a mailshot and one reminder, a net response rate of 64% (n = 145) was achieved. Overall, it was found that obesity was perceived as the most extensive problem in women of childbearing age. Seventy nurses (48%) reported that, in addition to offering family planning services, they gave dietary advice ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ to their clients without being asked. 

Most nutrition education came from diploma and training courses and scientific literature, followed by ‘experience’. Those nurses already embracing a nutritional advice and guidance role were more interested in further nutrition training (p = 0.018) than the other nurses. However, overall, 67% of the nurses wished to train further in nutrition and weight management.

The findings suggest that family planning nurses should be supported to develop nutritional advice and guidance skills. There is a pressing need for public health nutrition and weight management training for nurses working in family planning services.