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Revista de Nutrição

Print version ISSN 1415-5273

Rev. Nutr. vol.27 no.1 Campinas Jan./Feb. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1415-52732014000100010 

Review

Research potential of food and nutrition in the Family Health Strategy: A structured review

Potencialidades da pesquisa em alimentação e nutrição na Estratégia de Saúde da Família: uma revisão estruturada

Ivana Aragão Lira Vasconcelos 1  

Leonor Maria Pacheco Santos 2  

1Universidade de Brasília, Departamento de Nutrição, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Nutrição Humana. Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro, Asa Norte, 70910-900, Brasília, DF, Brasil. Correspondência para/Correspondence to: IAL VASCONCELOS. E-mail: <ivana@unb.br>

2Universidade de Brasília, Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde, Departamento de Saúde Coletiva. Brasília, DF, Brasil

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE:

Determine the profile of research groups and publications with food and nutrition-related actions promoted by the Family Health Strategy in Brazil since 1994.

METHODS:

Two procedures were used: structured review and research group search. The former searched the databases Web of Science, Medline, Lilacs, SciELO and Embase, and followed the principles that guide systematic reviews in the Cochrane Collaboration. The references of the selected articles were also consulted. The research groups were searched in the Research Group Directory of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.

RESULTS:

A total of 54 articles published between 2002 and 2012 in 20 different journals were identified. Ten of these were retrieved from the references section of other articles. Focusing mostly on children from the Southeast region, these studies were coordinated by dieticians, nurses, and physicians. Diabetes Mellitus, high blood pressure, and breastfeeding were the most common topics (n=23). The quantitative methodology was employed by 42 articles, most about diagnoses. Only five research groups studied the Family Health Strategy, despite the growing number of studies in the area over the years.

CONCLUSION:

Despite the growing scientific production, the findings of this structured review indicate that few studies focused on food and nutrition in the Family Health Strategy, probably because of the existence of few research groups in the country. More comprehensive and consistent studies on the topic are needed.

Key words: Family health; Feeding; Nutrition public health; Primary health care; Research groups; Review literature as topic

RESUMO

OBJETIVO:

Traçar o perfil dos grupos de pesquisa e das publicações que apresentem ações relacionadas à alimentação e nutrição no âmbito da Estratégia Saúde da Família no Brasil a partir do ano de 1994.

MÉTODOS:

Dois procedimentos foram explorados: a revisão estruturada e a busca de grupos de pesquisa. A primeira explorou as bases Web of Science, Medline, Lilacs, SciELO e Embase, seguiu os princípios que orientam as revisões sistemáticas da Colaboração Cochrane. Foram ainda consultadas as referências dos artigos selecionados. A busca de grupos de pesquisa foi feita por meio do Diretório de Grupos de Pesquisa do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico.

RESULTADOS:

Foram encontrados 54 artigos originais, sendo 10 identificados na lista de referências, publicados entre os anos de 2002 a 2012 em 20 diferentes periódicos. Sua maior parte foi realizada na Região Sudeste, sob coordenação de nutricionistas, enfermeiros e médicos, com crianças como sujeitos de pesquisa. Diabetes Mellitus, Hipertensão e Aleitamento materno foram os temas mais encontrados (n=23). Foram identificados 42 artigos de pesquisa quantitativa, em sua maioria sobre diagnóstico. Foram encontrados apenas cinco grupos de pesquisa com o tema na Estratégia Saúde da Família, apesar do aumento de pesquisas na área ao longo dos anos.

CONCLUSÃO:

Apesar da produção crescente, os achados desta revisão estruturada indicaram poucos estudos com foco em alimentação e nutrição no contexto da Saúde da Família, provavelmente devido à existência de poucos grupos de pesquisa no País. É necessário fomentar estudos sobre o tema de maneira mais ampla e consistente.

Palavras-Chave: Saúde da família; Alimentação; Nutrição em saúde pública; Atenção primária à saúde; Grupos de pesquisa; Literatura de revisão como assunto

INTRODUCTION

In the last four decades, the Brazilian population changed its nutritional profile, decreasing the prevalence of childhood malnutrition (although it still persists in low-income families from the Brazilian North Region), the adolescent and adult underweight prevalences, and the stunting prevalence; and increasing the overweight and obesity prevalences in the country, especially in the last decade1. The coexistence of these problems with the persistence of high prevalences of nutritional deficiencies in children under five years of age and women of childbearing age, such as hypovitaminosis A (17.4% and 12.3%) and anemia (20.9% and 29.4%)2 characterizes the nutritional transition and the double disease burden3.

This situation can be explained by the social and economic transformations that influenced lifestyles, changing the food environment and reducing physical activity. The Pesquisa de Orçamentos Familiares (POF, Family Budget Survey) of 2008-20094 found the addition of low-nutrient high-energy foods into the traditional Brazilian diet: more than 90% of the population had low produce (fruits and non-starchy vegetables) intake and 60% to 80% of the population had excessive sugar, sodium, and saturated fat intakes4.

On the other hand, the implementation of policies, and encouragement and support programs promoted breastfeeding, increasing the number of breastfed children and the duration of exclusive and total breastfeeding2.

In parallel, the prevalences of moderate and severe food insecurity decreased between the 2004 Pesquisa Nacional por Amostras em Domicílios (PNAD, National Household Sample Survey) and the 2009 PNAD, being 6.5% and 5.0%, respectively, in the latter5. This decrease was confirmed by the 2008-2009 POF, which found a subtle increase in household satisfaction with the amount and quality of the foods (64.4% and 35.0%) in relation to the 2002-2003 POF (53.0% and 26.5%)6.

Along with poor food choices, the 2008 PNAD found that only 28.2% of the population aged more than 14 years was physically active6. The Vigilância de Fatores de Risco e Proteção para Doenças Crônicas por Inquérito Telefônico (Vigitel) 2011 found a leisure-time physical activity rate in adults of 30.0% and a transportation-related physical activity rate of 17.0%7.

Given the complexity of the Brazilian nutritional scenario, which tends to increase the incidence and prevalence of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD)8 , 9, health care personnel need to be trained to ensure the comprehensiveness of care10 - 12. Food and nutrition actions are also capable of favoring the inclusion of health promotion in the political agenda and contribute to this goal10 - 12.

In this line, the Brazilian State officially advanced by passing the National Health Promotion Policy13 in 2006 to promote quality of life and reduce health vulnerability and risk; the National Primary Health Care Policy also in 200614, which prioritized the Family Health Strategy as the definitive proposal for redirecting the health system; and the National Food and Nutrition Policy, in 1999, revised in 201015, to improve the population's diet, nutrition, and health by promoting healthy food practices, food and nutrition surveillance, and preventing and comprehensive care.

Given the various determinants and the combination or overlap of food and nutrition-related problems, preventive actions should attempt an integral and efficiency care instead of the conventional and fragmented practices11 , 16. Furthermore, the institutional nutrition network in the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS, Unified Health Care System) became stronger, turning primary care into a potential space for the development of actions that encourage and support healthy eating habits and physical activity12.

In the context of comprehensive health care, the Family Health Strategy emerges in 1994 as an innovative proposal to reorganize the health-care model, a proposal capable of establishing a set of political, social, and economic health-promoting ideas that require: uninterrupted intersectoral partnership; interdisciplinary coordination of actions to treat and prevent disease, and promote health; higher education encouraging multidisciplinary care; and health education emphasized as a reflection-action strategy for promoting citizenship and solidarity17.

These challenges indicate the importance of proposing the Family Health Strategy as a new model of care and a potential and coherent space for the inclusion and establishment of food and nutrition actions with a cross-sectional approach10. Hence, this study proposes to trace the profile of the research groups and publications focusing on nationwide food and nutrition-related interventions, diagnosis, or assessment in the context of the Family Health Strategy since 1994.

METHODS

Structured review

A Structured Review was conducted according to the systematic review principles of the Cochrane Collaboration, which uses predefined methods for identifying, selecting, and critically assessing studies, and collecting and analyzing data18. Systematic reviews should follow seven steps. The present review followed the first six listed below:

a) Formulating the question: What types of studies include food and nutrition actions in the context of Family Health Strategy?

b) Study search and selection: The searched databases were the Web of Science, Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde (BVS) (Lilacs, Medline, and SciELO) and Embase. Original studies conducted in Brazil from 1994 to December 2012 published in any language. The following keywords and their combinations were used for searching the title or abstract: in Portuguese, nutrição/alimentação; Atenção Primária à Saúde/Atenção Básica à Saúde; Estratégia Saúde da Família/Programa Saúde da Família; and in English, nutrition/food; health primary care; family health. The selection of these terms relied on the health science descriptors available at the BVS, and similar terms in the other databases. The keywords used for the food and nutrition area were generic to enable the retrieval of journals with diverse characterizable actions.

c) Critical study assessment: The articles were initially selected by title and abstract, resulting in 151 articles. Next, the methodology was read to make sure the study met the inclusion criteria, namely studies in the Family Health Strategy context that approached food and nutrition actions. These are defined as a set of individual, family, and group actions at the primary care level of the health care system that aim to promote health, prevent and treat disease, and provide rehabilitation10 attributed to dieticians. These actions may also compose the actions answered by the health care team10.

Therefore, manuscripts that focused on other health-related themes were also selected, providing they had some specific or cross-sectional actions related to food and nutrition, such as infant care, infant growth and development monitoring; prenatal care monitoring weight gain; and references to the food intake and counseling, anthropometry, or adherence to non-pharmaceutical treatment of individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes.

Dissertations or theses were not included and the study journals should have at least a Qualis Capes classification of B3 for the area of Collective Health. Studies of populations not covered by the Family Health Strategy were not included, such as: studies based on samples of Primary Health Care Units Clientele, household census, traditional care, vaccination campaigns, polyclinics, Specialized Reference Units, Family Development Center, institutions, and projects linked to universities. The same exclusion criteria were used for studies of families covered only by the Pastoral da Criança, private health care insurance, or specific municipal programs such as the Programa de Suplementação Alimentar (Food Supplementation Program), and Programa do Desnutrido (Program for the Malnourished), among others. This further selection resulted in 44 articles that met the study criteria; another 10 articles were retrieved from their references section, totaling 54 studies.

d) Data collection: The following variables were collected: author, journal, and publication year; location; population, classified according to the municipality size (small, medium, large, and metropolis) provided by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE, Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics)19; Family Health Strategy presence in the municipality according to the Unified Health Care System database20; and Family Health Strategy coverage stratified by percentage brackets I - 0% to 20%; II - 20% to 50%, III - 50% to 70%, IV - >70%21. Other study variables were the Municipal Human Development Indices (HDI-M)22, classified as medium (0.5 to 0.79) or high (>0.80); study design, methods, sample size, and target population; study objective/theme; education of the first author retrieved from the Plataforma Lattes (Lattes Plataform) available at the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico's (CNPq, National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) site23; the degree of nutritional intervention (diagnosis, health promotion, disease prevention, ambulatory care/treatment/care) or management (control, organization, planning, and supervision) according to the definition provided by the Ministry of Health's Matriz de Ações de Alimentação e Nutrição na Atenção Bási-ca de Saúde (Matrix of Food and Nutrition Actions)10.

e) Data analysis and presentation: the selected studies have different profiles and were grouped and classified according to their design, nutritional care action, and municipal management actions. These data are shown in tables.

f) Data interpretation: after result analysis and tabulation, we discussed the action profiles and applicability; food and nutrition in the context of Family Health Strategy in different types of Brazilian municipalities; the limitations and potentials of such services; and the human resources.

The seventh step regards improving and updating the manuscript after publication, which does not apply to the present study.

Identification of the research groups that investigate about food and nutrition in the Family Health Strategy

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico's24, Diretórios dos Grupos de Pesquisa (DGP, Research Group Directory) search tools were used for finding the groups that work on this theme. The tools search not only the database but also census data (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010). For both searches, the following search options were marked: group name, group repercussions, name of the research line, and keywords of the research line. The searched keywords were: collective health/public health; basic care/primary care; family health/community agents together with the terms food/nutrition (saúde coletiva/saúde pública, atenção básica/atenção primária, saúde da família/agen-tes comunitários, combinadas com os termos ali-mentação/nutrição). This procedure allowed searching the focus of this review more accurately, beyond the academic area that conceived the study, given that food and nutrition investigations may occur in other academic areas.

To complement the search in the above database, the groups were also searched using an alternative method. The full name of the authors of the articles selected in the structured review was used for finding other groups in which they worked as leaders or researchers.

The groups were selected by reading all the information provided on the group's web page and the objectives of one or more research lines. Studies on the following subjects were excluded: studies on animal food or nutrition, chemical composition of foods, clinical nutrition, food service management, and sports nutrition. When at least one of the research lines regarded the theme, the group was selected.

The following data were collected from the groups that studied primary care or Family Health Strategy with a focus on food and nutrition: year of establishment, predominant area, institution, research lines, and keywords.

RESULTS

Research on food and nutrition in the Family Health Strategy

Fifty-four original articles on some type of Family Health Strategy action related to food and nutrition were analyzed, two in English and all others in Portuguese. Although the search included all studies published since 1994, the 54 selected studies were published between 2002 and 2012, and most (n=40, 74%) were published in the last six years.

Only forty studies reported the data collection period, and these studies were mostly published from one to six years after completion of data collection. Only one study was published twelve years after completion of data collection.

The articles were found in twenty different journals, seventeen of which were Brazilian. Thirty-three (61.0%) studies were published in public health, collective health, or epidemiology journals. Five were nursing journals, accounting for 24.1% of the publications (n=13). Only four studies were from two different nutrition journals, and another four studies were from specific medical journals.

Most studies were done in the Brazilian Southeast (n=27, 50%), especially in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. However, the other Brazilian regions were also represented: Northeast with eighteen studies (33%), South with seven studies (13%), Central-West with one study (2%), and North with one study (2%). A total of 44 municipalities were studied, and three studies included more than one municipality (1º=10; 2º=4, and 3º=2). Two articles did not mention the study municipalities. The population in these municipalities varied from three thousand to ten million inhabitants. Seven municipalities were metropolis (>900 thousand inhabitants), eighteen were large (100 thousand to 900 thousand inhabitants), two were medium-sized (50 thousand to 100 thousand inhabitants), and seventeen were small, with less than 20 thousand inhabitants.

The municipalities' Human Development Index (HDI-M) ranged from medium (0.500-0.799, n=34) to high (>0.800, n=10)22. According to Datasus, 31 municipalities had Family Health Strategy coverage higher than 50%; and of these, 20 had Family Health Strategy coverage higher than 70%20.

The academic education of the first author of the reviewed studies included: dieticians with 16 studies; nurses with 14 studies; physicians with 12 studies; psychologists with 3 studies; physical therapists, dental surgeons, and physical educators with 2 studies each; biologist, occupational therapist, and pharmacist with one study each.

Most studies focused on a specific population, such as children (n=14), health professionals (n=12), older adults (n=5), pregnant women (n=3), mothers (n=3), adults (n=2), and women of childbearing age (n=2). Some studies included more than one type of population, such as adults and older adults (n=8), mothers and children (n=2), mothers and professionals (n=1), and professionals and pregnant women (n=1). One study focused on a child's father.

Some themes can be categorized according to the articles' objectives and the matrix of food and nutrition actions in primary care10. High blood pressure or diabetes mellitus was the most common topic (n=12, 22.2%), followed by breastfeeding (n=11), nutritional status assessment (anthropometry, n=9), child health or childcare (n=7), prenatal care (n=6), micronutrient inadequacies (n=5), labor (n=2), welfare program (n=1), and general food and nutrition (n=1). Articles about the Sistema de Vigilância Alimentar e Nutricional (Sisvan, Food and Nutrition Surveillance System) were not found.

The methods used in the study articles varied: structured or semi-structured interviews with users or professionals; self-administered questionnaires; venous or finger-stick blood tests; stool test; direct anthropometry; direct blood pressure measurement; food intake assessment; field diary; direct observation of health unit structure; and use of scales and tests to measure child development and older adult motor development. The interventions included: iron supplementation; physical activity; Family Health Strategy-related; provision of individual, group, and home care; a strategy called Atenção Inte-grada às Doenças Prevalentes na Infância (AIDPI, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness); and Breastfeeding - Friendly Primary and Prenatal Care Units. The educational intervention proposals used dialogue discourse, demonstration, service practices, lectures, group dynamics, and case studies.

Tables 1, 2, and 3 show the studies. Table 1 lists quantitative or mostly quantitative studies that performed nutritional care actions, such as diagnosis, health promotion, disease prevention, and ambulatory care/care/treatment. Table 2 also lists quantitative studies, but only those that performed food and nutrition actions typical of local or municipal management. Table 3 shows the qualitative studies and the actions include both nutritional care and management.

Table 1 Profile of the quantitative or mostly quantitative studies on disease diagnosis and prevention, and health promotion and care. Brazil, 2003 to 2012. 

(1 of 2)
Author, year Municípalities Size a FHS cover b HDI-M c Sample Topic Purpose d Education of
(n), Region the 1º author
Borges & (1), SE M II High 41 lactating women Breastfeeding D Nurse
Philippi (2003)25
Ferreira et al. (1), NE L III Medium 293 children aged 6 Micronutrient DP Nurse
(2003)26 to 23 months inadequacy
Sousa & Araújo (1), NE L III Medium 371 children aged 6 Micronutrient D Nurse
(2004)27 to 60 months inadequacy
Mano & Pierin (1), SE M II High 226 records of HBP/DM D Nurse
(2005)28 hypertensives in the FHS or not
Parada et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 166 children aged Breastfeeding D Nurse
(2005)29 <1 year
Barbosa et al. (1), NE L IV Medium 284 older adults Micronutrient D Dietician
(2006)30 inadequacy
Maria-Mengel & (1), SE L I High 120 children aged 6 Child health/ D Psychologist
Linhares (2007)31 to 44 months care
Melo et al. (1), NE L II Medium 115 pregnant Nutritional D Physician
(2007)32 women status
Nascimento et (1), NE L IV Medium 315 older adults Micronutrient D Dietician
al. (2007)33 inadequacy
Alves et al. (1), NE M III Medium 68 children aged 5 to 10 years with Nutritional status DP Physician
(2008)34 BMI =85th
Azeredo et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 36 professionals Breastfeeding D Dietician
(2008)35 and 137 mothers of children aged < 24 months
Assunção & (1), SE M III High 164 diabetics aged HBP/DM NCT Physical therapist
Ursine (2008)36 >18 years
Cotta et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 150 hypertensives, HBP/DM D Occupational therapist
(2009)37 5 diabetics, and 25 with DM and HBP
Girotto et al. (1), S L III High 385 hypertensive HBP/DM D Pharmacist
(2009)38 adults and older adults
Azeredo et al. (1), SE MS III High 103 anemic Micronutrient DP Dietician
(2010)39 children inadequacy
Brecailo et al. (1), S L III Medium 426 children aged Breastfeeding D Dietician
(2010)40 <2 years
Felisbino- (1), SE S IV Medium 1332 children aged Nutritional D Nurse
Mendes et al. <10 years status
(2010)41
Silva et al. (1), SE L I High 43 diabetic older HBP/DM D Nurse
(2010)42 adults
Cristovão et al. (1), SE M II High 298 adult women Nutritional D Nurse
(2011)43 status
Garcia et al. (1), N S IV Medium 164 children aged 6 Nutritional D Dietician
(2011)44 to 24 months status
Author, year Municípalities Size a FHS cover b HDI-M c Sample Topic Purpose d Education of
(n), Region the 1º author
Cunha et al. (1), CW S IV Medium 80 enrolled in the HBP/DM D Physical
(2012)45 HiperDia educator/
therapist
Marinho et al. (1), NE L IV Medium 419 non-diabetic Nutritional D Nurse
(2012)46 adults status
Ribeiro et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 27 hypertensive HBP HP Dietician
(2012)47 women
Soares et al. (1), NE L III Medium 235 older adults Nutritional D Physical
(2012)48 status therapist
Ferreira-Marim (1), SE L I High 155 preschoolers Nutritional D Dietician
et al. (2012)49 aged 2 to 5 years status
Vianna et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 70 older adults Nutritional DP Physical
(2012)50 status educator

Note: a Size of the municipality. Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 200719; S: Small; MS: Medium-Sized; L: Large, M: Metropolis; b Source: DATASUS, 2007; FHS cover: Family Health Strategy coverage as follows: I - 0% to 20%; II - 20 to 50%, III - 50 to 70%, IV - >70%; c Source: Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento, 2000. HDI-M: Human Development Index of the Municipality classified as medium (0.5 to 0.799) and high (>=0.80); d Focus of the food and nutrition actions according to the source Brasil, 2009.

D: Diagnosis

HP: Health Promotion

DP: Disease Prevention

NCT: Nutritional Ambulatory Care/Care/Treatment

HBP: High Blood Pressure

DM: Diabetes Mellitus

SE: Southeast

NE: Northeast

CW: Central West

S: South

N: North

Table 2 Profile of the quantitative studies that approach food and nutrition actions promoted by municipal or local administration. Brazil, 2002 to 2012. 

Author, year Municípalities Size a FHS cover b HDI-M c Sample Topic Purpose d Education of the 1º author
Cesar et al. (2), SE 2 S 2 IV 2 Medium 409 children Child health/ control Physician
(2002)51 care
Ciconi et al. (1), SE L II Medium 61 professionals Breastfeeding organization Biologist
(2004)52
Dubeux et al. (1), NE L II Medium 40 teams Breastfeeding control Dental
(2004)53 surgeon
Faleiros et al. (1), S L II High 112 children Breastfeeding control Physician
(2005)54
Roncalli & Lima (4), NE - - - 2 144 children < 5 Child health/ control Dental
(2006)55 years w/ and w/o care surgeon
Araújo & (1), NE M I High FHS
Guimarães 135 adults/ older HBP/DM control Physician
(2007)56 adults with HBP
Caldeira et al. (1), SE L II Medium Professionals: 41 Breastfeeding organization Physician
(2007)57 with higher and control
education and 152
with high school
Lima et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 49 postpartum Child health/ control Nurse
(2007)58 women and 26 care
newborns
Caldeira et al. (1), SE L II Medium About 1400 Breastfeeding organization Physician
(2008)59 mothers
Cesar et al. (1), S L II Medium 361 pregnant Prenatal care control Physician
(2008)60 women
Costa et al. (1), SE S IV Medium 33 pregnant Prenatal care organization Dietician
(2009)61 women and 35 and control
professionals
Lima et al. (1), SE M I High 472 hypertensives HBP/DM planning Physician
(2009)62 and control
Niquini et al. (1), SE M I High 7 FHCU e 230 Prenatal care organization Dietician
(2010)63 pregnant women
Niquini et al. (1), SE M I High 230 pregnant Prenatal care control Dietician
(2012)64 women
Cervato- (1), SE M II High 123 dieticians from Professional planning Dietician
Mancuso et al. primary care and 51 practice and
(2012)65 from NASF organization
Cesar et al. (1), S L II Medium 2395 mothers Prenatal care control Physician
(2012)66

Note: a Size of the municipality. Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 200719; S: Small; MS: Medium-Sized; L: Large, M: Metropolis; b Source: DATASUS, 2007; FHS cover: Family Health Strategy coverage as follows: I - 0% to 20%; II - 20 to 50%, III - 50 to 70%, IV - >70%; c Source: Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento, 2000. HDI-M: Human Development Index of the Municipality classified as medium (0.5 to 0.799) and high (>=0.80); d The local/municipal management consists of the following elements: planning, organization, management, and control

FHCU: Family Health Care Unit

NASF: Family Health Support Center

HBP: High Blood Pressure

DM: Diabetes Mellitus

SE: Southeast

NE: Northeast

CW: Central West

S: South

N: North

Table 3 Characterization of the qualitative studies on diagnosis, health promotion/care, and management. Brazil, 2003 to 2012. 

Author, year Municípalities Size a FHS cover b HDI-M c Sample Topic Purpose d Education of
the 1º author
Felisberto et al. (10), NE 6 S; 1 2 III 10 10 coordinators Child health/ MT - Physician
(2002)67 MS; and 8 Medium and 146 care control
3L IV professionals
Fernandez et al. (1), SE M II High 8 physicians, 8 Food and MT - Dietician
(2005)68 nurses, 45 CA, 16 nutrition organization
nurse assistants
Alves e Nunes (3), NE - - - 50 appointments HBP/DM HP Psychologist
(2006)69 with 10 FHS
physicians
Bustamante e (1), NE M I High 6 families with Child health/ D Psychologist
Trad (2007)70 small children care
Slomp et al. (1), S L III Medium 90 newborns Child health/ NCT Nurse
(2007)71 care
Frota et al. (1), NE S IV Medium 15 mothers with Breastfeeding D Nurse
(2009)72 children aged <1
year
Pontes et al. (1), NE M III Medium 17 couples and Breastfeeding D Nurse
(2009)73 parents of children
aged 6 to 8 months
Silva et al. (1), SE L II Medium 15 physicians Prenatal/child NCT Physician
(2009)74 care
Araújo et al. (1), NE S IV Medium 11 nurses HBP/DM NCT Nurse
(2010)75
Pinto & Bosi (1), NE M I Medium 8 obese adult Nutritional D Dietician
(2010)76 females status
Ramos & Cuervo (1), S M I High 11 PHCU or FHCU Welfare MT - Dietician
(2012)77 coordinators and program/HRAF planning
12 professionals and
organization
Camossa et al. (1), SE L II High 21 professionals Professional MT - Dietician
(2012)78 from 2 teams, 6 practice planning
residents and 1 and
manager organization

Note: a Size of the municipality. Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 200719; S: Small; MS: Medium-Sized; L: Large, M: Metropolis; b Source: DATASUS, 2007; FHS cover: Family Health Strategy coverage as follows: I - 0% to 20%; II - 20% to 50%, III - 50% to 70%, IV - >70%; c Source: Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento, 2000. HDI-M: Human Development Index of the Municipality classified as medium (0.5 to 0.799) and high (>=0.80); d Focus of the food and nutrition actions according to the source Brasil, 2009.

D: Diagnosis

HP: Health Promotion

DP: Disease Prevention

NCT: Nutritional Ambulatory Care/Care/Treatment; The local/Municipal Management (MT) consists of the following elements: planning, organization, management, and control

HBP: High Blood Pressure

DM: Diabetes Mellitus

PHCU: Primary Health Care Unit

FHCU: Family Health Care Unit

HRAF: Human Right to Adequate Food

CA: Community Agents

SE: Southeast

NE: Northeast

CW: Central West

S: South

N: North

Forty-two quantitative studies were found, two mostly quantitative with some qualitative data. Of these, 26 referred to nutritional care actions (Table 1) and 16 to local or municipal management actions (Table 2).

The studies in Table 1 are either interventional (n=5), cross-sectional (n=20), or cohort (n=1). The five intervention studies assessed effectiveness26 , 34 , 39 , 47 , 50.

Three articles with retrospective information involved the organization of secondary data, one of which combined primary and secondary data. These articles collected data from medical records and health information systems, namely from the Sistema de Informação da Atenção Básica (SIAB, Primary Care Information System).

Thirteen studies in Table 1 studied location-specific populations, such as subjects living in a district or users of a health service, and another thirteen studies regarded other types of specific populations, such as a sample of Family Health Strategy professionals representative of the municipal Family Health Strategy professional population.

Most quantitative studies (n=20) used nutritional status diagnosis (intake assessment, anthropometric assessment, breastfeeding duration, micronutrient deficiencies) for assessing nutritional care actions. Although mostly quantitative, two studies also presented psychosocial and cultural data (perceived situations, professional practices, and cultural practices). Four investigated disease-prevention methods (prophylactic iron supplementation and practice of physical activity in older adults or obese children), one promoted health (nutritional education for hypertensives), and one provided ambulatory care/care/treatment (assistance to diabetics).

Table 2 shows studies with management-attribution actions. Sixteen studies were quantitative, of which four were intervention studies, ten were cross-sectional studies, one was a cohort study, and one was a community-based trial study. Five of these studies regarded secondary data (two were retrospective) obtained from the child health booklet (which contains a child's health, vaccination, and nutritional data called Cardeneta da Criança), medical records, national health establishment registry, Municipal Health Department and pregnant women's record (Cartão da Gestante).

Most studies on management (n=15) consisted of assessments: five studies made impact assessments51 , 54 - 56 , 60; one assessed effectiveness59; nine made service assessments, of which one analyzed structure, process, and result61; three studies approached only two of these dimensions53 , 57 , 62; and five assessed only one of these dimensions52 , 58 , 63 - 65. The only study that did not involve an assessment analyzed the dietician's work in a municipality, and whether the municipality had an adequate number of dieticians66.

Eleven studies included samples representative of the municipality51 - 53 , 57 , 59 - 61 , 63 - 66, four included specific samples (Health Care Center or Sanitation District)54 , 56 , 58 , 62, and one with regional representativeness included samples of four municipalities of two Brazilian Northeast states55.

Regarding management actions (Table 2), nine publications regarded control; three regarded specific organization actions; two regarded organization and control actions; and two regarded planning and control actions.

Table 3 shows the twelve qualitative studies that combined different nutritional care and management actions. Despite their qualitative nature, two had representative samples: the first included coordinators and professionals from ten municipalities in a Brazilian-Northeast state67; and the second included physicians from a municipality74.

Few studies in this table consisted of assessments. One study assessed structure68; two assessed process69 , 77, and one assessed structure and process67.

One of these studies used secondary data sources, namely birth certificates and medical records71.

Some articles of the tables 1, 2, and 3 analyzed when the Family Health Strategy was implemented in the study municipalities: 199735 , 39, 199874, 200029 , 52, 200151 , 70, and 200240 , 54 , 62.

Research groups

Table 4 shows the distribution of the research groups according to the RGD from 2000 on and the great increase in the area's research capacity. The groups who explicitly cited primary care as a study field of food and nutrition numbered two in 2000, eight in 2002, eleven in 2004, 18 in 2006, 22 in 2008, 24 in 2010, and 26 when the database was consulted. Some groups focused at least one research line in food and nutrition within the Family Health Strategy: one in 2002, two in 2004, three in 2006, four in 2008, seven in 2010, and four in the database.

Table 4 Distribution of the research groups by keywords. Brazil, 2000-2012. 

Keywords 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 Database *
CH + Nut 7 19 24 24 21 34 42
CH + Diet 0 2 9 11 10 18 27
CH + Nut + Diet 0 2 8 11 9 18 27
PH + Nut 6 16 23 26 27 33 35
PH + Diet 0 6 10 12 12 14 21
PH + Nut + Diet 0 5 9 10 10 12 19
BC + Nut 0 1 2 2 6 8 9
BC + Diet 0 1 2 2 5 6 5
BC + Nut + Diet 0 1 2 2 4 5 5
PC + Nut 0 2 2 1 1 5 10
PC + Diet 0 2 2 4 3 5 10
PC + Nut + Diet 0 0 0 1 1 3 7
FHS + Nut 2 3 4 9 11 11 10
FHS + Diet 0 1 1 6 8 6 7
FHS + Nut + Diet 0 0 0 3 5 4 5
CA + Nut 0 0 1 1 1 1 1
CA + Diet 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
CA + Nut + Diet 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Note: * number of research groups found in the database during the search period.

Nut: Nutrition (Nutrição)

Diet: Diet (Alimentação)

CH: Collective Health (Saúde Coletiva)

PH: Public Health (Saúde Pública)

BA: Basic Care (Aten-ção Básica)

PC: Primary Care (Atenção Primária)

FHS: Family Health Strategy (Estratégia Saúde da Família)

CA: Community Agents (Agentes Comunitários)

On the other hand, the search based on tracking the authors' names found another 30 groups that studied food and nutrition in primary care, totaling 54 groups when added to the groups found by keywords, and only two more groups focusing on the Family Health Strategy, totaling five research groups. The research lines of these groups regarding primary care and Family Health Strategy totaled 82 and 8, respectively.

Table 5 shows the characteristics of the research groups found in the database by keywords and author tracking. The year of establishment of the groups that focused on primary care varied considerably, but these groups became more common after 2000. Meanwhile, the groups that focused on Family Health Strategy appeared somewhat recently.

Table 5 Distribution of the research groups during the search period according to year of establishment, institution location by Brazilian region, and prevailing academic area. Brazil, 2012. 

Year of establishment (n) Brazilian region of the institution Prevailing academic area
PHC FHS PHC FHS PHC FHS
Base corrente 1976 (1) 1999 (1) SE (22) SE (3) Nutrition (23) Collective health (2)
1982 (1) 2002 (1) NE (15) CW (1) Collective health (16) Nutrition (2)
1989 (1) 2007 (1) S (11) NE (1) Medicine (10) Medicine (1)
1990 (2) 2009 (2) CW (5) Others (5)
1992 (2) N (1)
1995 (1)
1996 (1)
1997 (1)
1999 (1)
2000 (7)
2001 (1)
2002 (1)
2004 (6)
2005 (3)
2006 (5)
2007 (2)
2008 (3)
2009 (2)
2010 (4)
2011 (5)
2012 (4)
Total 54 5 54 5 54 5

Note: PHC: Primary Health Care; FHS: Family Health Strategy; SE: Southeast; NE: Northeast; CW: Central West; S: South; N: North.

Most groups' institutions are located in the Brazilian Southeast (n=25), Northeast (n=16), and South (n=11) regions, and most of the groups were from the areas of nutrition (n=25), collective/public health (n=18), and medicine (n=11).

DISCUSSION

The present results indicated a scarcity of studies on food and nutrition within the scope of the Family Health Strategy. However, other studies may exist since this review aimed to search only in the renowned journals. It is also possible that the Family Health Strategy management in some municipalities conducts only routine diagnoses and assessments, published in technical, not scientific, publications.

The Family Health Strategy was implemented in the municipalities from four to eight years after the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the states and municipalities for the construction of a new model (1994). Family Health Strategy coverage also varied greatly, from 14.5% to 94.0% in the referenced municipalities. Yet, high coverage does not ensure complete implementation of all the actions related to primary care's basic strategy areas79.

Family Health Strategy coverage is increasing much more rapidly in small Brazilian municipalities than in medium-sized and large municipalities. The advantage of the small municipalities is that they do not have a previously structured service network68 , 80. On the other hand, not only do larger municipalities require more organizational, political, and financial resources to reach good coverage, but they also provide care to individuals from other municipalities21 , 80 , 81. In fact, the 13 municipalities with less than 50% Family Health Strategy coverage were large cities or metropolises, and 17 of the 21 municipalities with more than 70% Family Health Strategy coverage were small.

In general, the municipalities with the lowest HDI-M had high Family Health Strategy coverage; low HDI-M is a primary requirement for the Ministry of Health to implement the strategy21.

Most studies were conducted in Brazilian Southeast municipalities mostly with low Family Health Strategy coverage. The Northeast region follows with the highest number of studies and highest mean Family Health Strategy coverage21. Since the approach regards food and nutrition and Family Health Strategy, the highest number of research groups in the Brazilian Southeast may explain the numerous articles. Search in the DGP confirmed the prevalence of the Southeast in the number of institutions with groups studying primary health care and the Family Health Strategy (Table 5). Nevertheless, numerous groups are also located in the Brazilian Northeast and South.

The information retrieved from the group and research line search confirm the scarcity of studies. Although a significant number of groups study food and nutrition in primary care, the number of groups that focus specifically on the Family Health Strategy is still small. However, focus on Family Health Strategy should be awakened and improved in view of the growing implementation of Núcleo de Apoio a Saúde da Família (NASF, Family Health Support Centers) and employment of dieticians in Brazilian municipalities after Ordinance nº 154/2008 was passed82.

Research Group Directory-based search has some limitations. Group selection depends on the detailed description of the researchers and respective keywords, and the latter are often used by many research lines. Therefore, it is possible that some groups appear as focusing on primary care when in fact they focus on Family Health Strategy. Another possibility is that some research groups left some fields blank when filling out the form, so they do not appear in any research line.

Time is also a limiting factor even in census-based searches because sometimes a group is inactivated and recertified by an institution, skipping a census. Also, it is not possible to distinguish between ongoing and completed studies in each research line unless the information is updated by the researchers.

Despite these weaknesses and need of improvement, this research tool is critical for disclosing the Brazilian food and nutrition research potential.

Most studies are quantitative, indicating the prevalence of the positivistic approach over the understanding approach as a way of making the area of collective health scientifically legitimate83. However, there were many qualitative or mixed studies with solid methods, showing the academic effort (here, specifically the Brazilian) of making increasingly deep analyses in the health area83.

Nevertheless, the food and nutrition actions in most studies were small and local, as shown by Tables 1, 2, and 3. This situation may impact professional practice. Although dieticians lead many studies, the number of nurses and physicians coordinating studies on food and nutrition was significant.

Among others, nurses have been protagonists in the establishment of the Family Health Strategy. But nurses accumulate many roles, including organizing the teamwork, and administrative and management activities75. Hence, the food and nutrition actions they create eventually appear75. Boog et al. 84 mention that physicians and nurses find performing nutrition education activities challenging because they do not have the right background for this task and cannot deal with the subjective aspects associated with food intake.

Few studies mention dieticians in the Family Health Strategy teams or supporting them35 , 42 , 47 , 77, despite the fact that other studies have suggested their inclusion in such teams or their working in parallel56 , 78 , 85. Nurses' and physicians' limited education in food and nutrition, nurses' excessive workload in the Family Health Strategy, and the absence of a dietician may suggest the reason for food and nutrition actions appearing diluted in face of other actions more in line with the nurse's or physician's work.

The most common study topics and populations were diabetes mellitus/diabetics and high blood pressure/hypertensives. These individuals were often targeted by actions focusing on anthropometric assessment, salt/sugar restriction recommendations, and prescriptive recommendations made mainly by physicians or nurses38 , 42 , 46 , 56 , 69 , 75. Although not provided routinely, education on healthier lifestyles and food habits was cited as the most effective primary control strategy, and sometimes the only control strategy28 , 38 , 42 , 46 , 62. In spite of the importance of chronic NCD in the Brazilian nosological landscape, the studies that covered NCD comprehensively and from the viewpoint of multiple sectors were scarce.

Breastfeeding and child care were the second most common topics. Mother and child care has been a governmental priority in public health since the 1940s, and the people's priority since the 1980s, when the people demanded the creation and establishment of health policies86. In 2006 child's health officially becomes a strategic area of the National Primary Health Care Policy14. Health professionals10 are responsible for health-promoting and disease-preventing food and nutrition actions, including the promotion of breastfeeding, possibly increasing interest on this topic.

However, woman's health care is not yet comparable to the quality of child's health care. The number of prenatal visits, and the quality and extent of this kind of care are yet inadequate, contributing to the persistently high mother mortality rates86. Few studies focused on this life stage.

None of the studies sampled adolescents, probably because the public health policies for this population were only introduced in primary care recently. In 2007 the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Education, made possible the institution of health-related actions through the Programa de Saúde na Escola (PSE, School Health Program)87 and created a care guide and record in 200988. The Semana Anual de Mobilização Saúde na Escola (Annual Week for School Health Mobilization) began in 2012 with the topic 'preventing obesity', representing the launching of PSE actions89. This may encourage researchers to conduct Family Health Strategy food and nutrition studies on this population.

Although they constitute the National Policy for Food and Nutrition guidelines15, the theme Sisvan was not approached by any study and the themes on welfare programs (Programas de Transferência de Renda) and the Human Right to Adequate Food (HRAF) were approached in only one study. The current context is the persistence of food insecurity5; health professionals' feeling of helplessness, little knowledge about their work, and the perceived inability to establish intersectoral cooperation when they come across this reality90; and the organizational challenge of coordinating the welfare programs and the programs that encourage access to social rights91. On the other hand, the Family Health Strategy has reach and allows professionals to access population needs15 that require further investigation.

Nearly all articles on management regarded assessment, so they were also interconnected with either control (service operation, degree of action implementation, and monitoring of the indicators of the target population) or organization (training and structure)10. Few studies approached planning and management aspects. These four elements must be balanced for the proper planning and coordination of nutritional care by the different care levels, units, and teams10.

The other intervention levels defined by the Matrix10 were mostly on nutritional diagnosis. This situation indicates how food and nutrition actions are restricted to immediate health problem resolution and not comprehensive enough to promote consistent health-promoting changes. Hence, nobody has yet used the principle of comprehensiveness care as a guide to health education actions that consider subjects emancipators and allow action coordination to flow intersectorally17.

Although focusing on primary care, a recent article92 mapped, systematized, and assessed the scientific production in nutrition, and its findings were similar to the present findings. The said article reviewed 117 studies; most used quantitative research methods (n=106); were published in the last decade (n=75); involved the Brazilian Southeast and South regions (n=69); focused on nutritional diagnosis (n=43); and sampled children (n=45). Studies on HRAF and welfare programs were not found.

CONCLUSION

Studies on food and nutrition in the Family Health Strategy are occasional, and probably were conducted by a few research groups that explore the theme. Food and nutrition actions are limited and local. Greater interest lies in child health-related studies. Generally, most studies on the management of food and nutrition actions explored their control and organization, and studies on nutritional care focused on nutritional diagnosis.

In conclusion, authorities should foment studies that propose more widespread and consistent food and nutrition actions in the Family Health Strategy, especially family- and group-oriented actions that foster the principles of comprehensive health care.

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Received: February 25, 2013; Revised: October 21, 2013; Accepted: November 26, 2013

CONTRIBUTORS IAL VASCONCELOS sought the articles and research groups in the Research Group Directory, wrote the article, and organized the references. LMP SANTOS supervised the work, reviewed the published articles, guided the Research Group Directory search, and helped to write and review the manuscript.

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