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As busy practitioners, maintaining an accurate overview of the evidence-base in all general and specialised areas of nutrition and dietetic practice can be a challenge. The Practice based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN®) system is available as one of the BDA/SENr members benefits (PEN can be purchased seperately for non-BDA members) to keep you up-to-date with the evidence-base. 
The PEN® system condenses and summarises the nutrition and dietetic evidence-base on more than 200 nutrition and dietetic-related topics, and translates this for you into practical information. 

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Each topic in the PEN system is collated under a ‘Knowledge Pathway’ (similar to a chapter in a book). Each 'Knowledge Pathway' is separated into different sections, for a handy table on the different sections of PEN and when you would use them, have a read through the following leaflets:

PEN for Students

The PEN system is a global nutrition and dietetic resource that provides quick online access to the most up-to-date, critically appraised evidence on more than 190 nutrition and dietetic related topics all in one handy, easily searchable system.

The system condenses, summarises and presents the entire evidence-base on a particular nutrition or dietetic-related topic, saving you time searching.

The PEN system applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’ by synthesising the ever-changing and expanding evidence base using the highest quality research available and supporting you to apply this in a practical way to nutrition and dietetic practice.

Why use the PEN system?

As a dietetic or nutrition student, the PEN system can assist you with assignments and coursework during your time at university. PEN can also support you during your practice placements by providing you with the evidence-base on a range of nutrition and dietetic topics, offering answers to practice-based questions, and providing access to an extensive list of practice tools and resources.

What does the PEN system do?

  • Applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’.
  • Communicates dietetic and nutritional science in a transparent way.
  • Delivers critically-appraised dietetic evidence on over 190 topics.
  • Provides practice-based answers to dietetic and nutrition practice-based questions.
  • Promotes self-confidence when answering patient questions and queries by providing you with the evidence-base to help educate patients and clients.
  • Supports you to challenge misinformation, misconceptions and pseudoscience.
  • Helps to inform your clinical decision making as an evidence-based dietitian or nutritionist.
  • Is rapidly accessible online through your computer, mobile phone, home or on the road (for individual PEN subscriptions).

What information is in PEN?

Each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ is divided into the following sections. The table below provides you with a quick overview of what each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ contains and when you would use it. * NB: The number of sections under each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ can differ. For example, the ‘Bariatric Surgery Knowledge Pathway ‘contains a ‘Practice Guidance Toolkit’ whereas the ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome Knowledge Pathway’ does not.

Why choose the PEN system?

  • The PEN database is extensive and covers a wealth of nutrition and dietetic-related topics, which is continually expanding…
  • All of the evidence in PEN is graded so you always know the quality of the evidence behind a particular nutrition or dietetic-related topic. Up until 2015, PEN used the A, B, C, D approach to grade evidence quality. In 2015, PEN adopted the GRADE approach (as used by BMJ Clinical Evidence, NICE, SIGN, WHO, and The Cochrane Library).
  • Each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ is continuously reviewed as the evidence changes, ensuring you are kept as up-todate as possible.
  • All references cited in PEN links to the abstract or full text so you can easily locate the original journal article or research paper.
  • PEN contains a number of useful features. For example, you can use the ‘Sort By – Country’ to search for ‘Related Tools and Resources’ relevant to your country. You can add PEN content to your ‘Favourites’ – this could be a particular ‘Practice Question’ or ‘Background’ section that you can save so you don’t have to re-search for the topic at a later date – saving you time!

PEN for Practitioners

The PEN system is a global nutrition and dietetic resource that provides quick online access to the most up-to-date, critically appraised evidence on more than 190 nutrition and dietetic related topics all in one handy, easily searchable system.

The system condenses, summarises and presents the entire evidence-base on a particular nutrition or dietetic-related topic, saving you time searching.

The PEN system applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’ by synthesising the ever-changing and expanding evidence base using the highest quality research available and supporting you to apply this in a practical way to nutrition and dietetic practice.

Why use the PEN system?

Dietitians and nutritionists are trusted by the public because their practice is evidence-based. However, maintaining an accurate overview of the evidence base in all general and specialised areasof dietetic practice can be a challenge. As a dietitian or nutritionist, PEN can support you by providing you with the evidencebase on a range of dietetic topics, offering answers to practice-based questions and providing access to an extensive list of practice tools and resources.

What does the PEN system do?

  • Applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’.
  • Communicates dietetic and nutritional science in a transparent way.
  • Delivers critically-appraised dietetic evidence on over 190 topics.
  • Provides practice-based answers to dietetic and nutrition practice-based questions.
  • Promotes self-confidence when answering patient questions and queries by providing you with the evidence-base to help educate patients and clients.
  • Supports you to challenge misinformation, misconceptions and pseudoscience.
  • Helps to inform your clinical decision making as an evidence-based dietitian or nutritionist.
  • Is rapidly accessible online through your computer, mobile phone, home or on the road (for individual PEN subscriptions).

What information is in the PEN system?

Each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ is divided into the following sections. The table below provides you with a quick overview of what each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ contains and when you would use it. *NB: The number of sections under each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ can differ. For example, the ‘Bariatric Surgery Knowledge Pathway ‘contains a ‘Practice Guidance Toolkit’ whereas the ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome Knowledge Pathway’ does not.

Why choose the PEN system?

  • The PEN database is extensive and covers a wealth of nutrition and dietetic-related topics, which is continually expanding…
  • All of the evidence in PEN is graded so you always know the quality of the evidence behind a particular nutrition or dietetic-related topic. Up until 2015, PEN used the A, B, C, D approach to grade evidence quality. In 2015, PEN adopted the GRADE approach (as used by BMJ Clinical Evidence, NICE, SIGN, WHO, and The Cochrane Library).
  • Each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ is continuously reviewed as the evidence changes, ensuring you are kept as up-todate as possible.
  • All references cited in PEN links to the abstract or full text so you can easily locate the original journal article or research paper.
  • PEN contains a number of useful features. For example, you can use the ‘Sort By – Country’ to search for ‘Related Tools and Resources’ relevant to your country. You can add PEN content to your ‘Favourites’ – this could be a particular ‘Practice Question’ or ‘Background’ section that you can save so you don’t have to re-search for the topic at a later date – saving you time!

PEN for Educators

The PEN system is a global nutrition and dietetic resource that provides quick online access to the most up-to-date, critically appraised evidence on more than 190 nutrition and dietetic related topics all in one handy, easily searchable system.

The system condenses, summarises and presents the entire evidence-base on a particular nutrition or dietetic-related topic, saving you time searching.

The PEN system applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’ by synthesising the ever-changing and expanding evidence base using the highest quality research available and supporting you to apply this in a practical way to nutrition and dietetic practice..

Benefit to educators

The PEN system can support your nutrition and dietetic students to understand the importance of evidence-based practice and evaluate the research base with a critical eye. PEN applies the concept of ‘Knowledge Translation’ which allows nutrition and dietetic students to utilise the evidence in the PEN system and apply in a practical way.

For university educators in academic institutions, PEN can be integrated into teaching in a number of ways:

  • PEN content can be incorporated into new lecture slides and used to update old lecture slides.
  • The PEN system can be used as part of seminar tasks and activites. For example students may be given a journal article to critically appraise then compare to the evidence in PEN, or students may be provided with a case study in which they have to use PEN to produce and justify their nutritional care plan.
  • For final year research students, students may wish to answer a newly-posed ‘Practice Question’ (available from the PEN Team) which could then be re-purposed and added to PEN following peer review.
  • Students have the opportunity to answer a ‘practice question’ as a final year project or assignment which could then be re-purposed and added to PEN.

*All PEN-related content is reviewed before publication on PEN.

PEN site licences

A site licence allows quick online access to the PEN system for 5 concurrent users; ideal for a class of dietetic or nutrition students. Access to PEN will provide students with with a wealth of clinical and non-clinical topics to help support their learning and development needs. Introducing students to the importance of evidence-based practice the PEN way will ensure the future profession uses only the highest quality and most accurate evidence to inform practice.

Benefit to students

For nutrition and dietetic students, PEN allows access to a wealth of nutrition and dietetic-related evidence to help support their academic studies, alongside an extensive list of practical tools and resources available to use whilst on practice placement. Using PEN allows students to become familiar with the evidence-based approach to nutrition and dietetics and to develop their critical appraisal skills.

What information is in the PEN system?

Each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ is divided into the following sections. The table below provides you with a quick overview of what each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ contains and when you would use it. *NB: The number of sections under each ‘Knowledge Pathway’ can differ. For example, the ‘Bariatric Surgery Knowledge Pathway ‘contains a ‘Practice Guidance Toolkit’ whereas the ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome Knowledge Pathway’ does not.

The Power of Pen

I have found using PEN invaluable. I can’t stress just how vital it is to student learning and progress. Using it regularly will help you throughout your future dietetic career and not just through your studies.

Leah Paulden, Nurition & Dietetics student, University of Nottingham.