Can dietitians Use Testimonials?

What is a testimonial?

Testimonials are examples, case studies or quotes from people who have used a service that promote the person or company delivering the service. An example of a testimonial would be an APD placing a success story from a client on their business website with information such as, ‘My APD John Smith helped me to lose fifteen kilos and now I feel great’.

Can dietitians use testimonials to advertise their services?

No, members of DAA cannot use testimonials to promote their services, including on social media. Using testimonials is against DAA’s Code of Professional Conduct and Statement of Ethical Practice.

As a self-regulated profession, DAA aims to maintain or exceed the standards and requirements for registered professions. These standards have been developed by individual boards governed by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in many aspects of practice.

AHPRA states:

“Under the National Accreditation and Registration Scheme (the National Scheme), registered health practitioners must adhere to the advertising requirements of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). The advertising provisions of the National Law apply to any person who advertises a regulated health service, including registered health practitioners, non-registered health practitioners, individuals and bodies corporate. Regulated health service refers to a service provided by, or usually provided by, a health practitioner.”

The AHPRA National Law sets out advertising that is not acceptable. This includes:

  • Making misleading claims
  • Offering an inducement, such as a gift or discount (unless the relevant terms and conditions are also included)
  • Using testimonials
  • Creating unreasonable expectations of beneficial treatment
  • Encouraging the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of a service.

I may have accidentally broken the advertising requirements, what are the consequences?

While there is no financial penalty applicable for dietitians, DAA views an advertising breach as a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct and Statement of Ethical Practice,  which all members have formally agreed to abide by. If it is brought to DAA’s attention that testimonials are being used, initially there will be a warning. Once a non-compliant advertisement or website has been fixed or removed, no further action is likely to be taken. But if persistent breaches occur, or a member of the public makes a formal complaint, disciplinary procedures will be pursued.

What if someone else publishes a testimonial about my services without my knowledge?

A breach includes a testimonial that another person has placed online, for example, on your website, Facebook or Twitter account. The owner of the account is responsible for what is placed there and is considered in breach if they have not monitored content and taken steps to remove the content.

I have seen some advertising that does not seem to be within the boundaries of the AHPRA National Law. What should I do?

Anyone with concerns about an APD, including advertising which appears to contravene the AHPRA National Law, should notify DAA. DAA rely on the public and members to bring their concerns to DAA’s attention, as advertising, particularly web-based advertising can be difficult to monitor. Please contact DAA National Office with your concerns.

What are other ways to promote my services as an APD?

Have an appealing, well-designed website with maximised search potential
Ensure you have a listing on ‘Find an APD’ on the DAA website and other relevant sites
Visit local doctors
Participate in local events (e.g. Australia’s Healthy Weight Week events)
Develop high-quality branding and logos
Write for the local newspaper
Offer promotional activities
Work with your Interest Group to develop a Role Statement.

What about reviews of resources?

A review of a professional resource by a health professional can be published and made available to other health professionals. This is not called a testimonial.

What about practice-based research results?

Impersonal results if based on internal research or audit which can be substantiated by strong evidence of your client population outcomes are considered a report of results rather than testimonials.
What if I am not sure?

If you are not sure whether or not your advertising content may be an offence under the National Law you might consider getting your own legal advice before proceeding to use that material. Consulting with colleagues or professional associations may also be helpful but should not be relied on in place of legal advice. Regretfully DAA are unable to provide advice or approval of advertising content other than by these guidelines and FAQ’s based on advice provided by AHPRA.

For more information visit the AHPRA website.