PEN Terminology


  • Knowledge Pathway: Designed in a question and answer format, the knowledge pathway represents a collection of questions, evidence-based answers, references, tools, resources, and evidence and practice guidance summaries, background information and other related materials on a particular topic.
  • Practice Category: Knowledge Pathways are organized into four Practice Categories – Population Heath/Lifecycle; Health condition/disease; Food Nutrients and Professional Practice.
  • Practice Question: Generally formulated using the PICO approach (Population; Intervention; Comparison; Outcome), Practice Questions reflect the everyday practice dilemmas faced by dietitians.
  • Practice Question Subcategories: To help you quickly find a relevant question, PEN organizes the Practice Questions under the following subcategories: Health Promotion/Prevention; Assessment/Surveillance; Intervention; Education; Evaluation. Links are also provided to Related Questions from other Knowledge Pathways.
  • Key Practice Point: Based on a synthesis of the most valid, important and applicable evidence, the Key Practice Points provide a succinct evidence-based recommendation or “answer” to a dietetics practice question. Each key practice point is graded (A,B,C,D) based on the strength of the evidence used to formulate it.
  • Evidence Statements: A summary of the critically appraised evidence including type study, the population studied, number of subjects, methods used, main findings and study limitations.
  • Reference Links: References used are hyperlinked to PubMed articles or practice guidelines and sometimes full articles or practice guidelines if PubMed link not available.

Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN] is an innovative knowledge translation1 tool designed to put you on the leading edge of evidence-based practice in food and nutrition. PEN supports decision making for:

  • clinicians through best practice point-of-care guidance to improve inpatient and outpatient health outcomes and reduce health care costs.
  • public health/community practitioners through complete population health and lifecycle practice guidance based on best evidence.
  • university educators as a teaching tool in critical appraisal and evidence-based decision making.
  • food service administrators through up-to-date best evidence in issues such as food safety and nutrient analysis software.
  • policy makers as an evidence-based reference to guide policy development.
  • food manufacturers for a synthesis of latest research on consumers' understanding of food labels or health claims.

Key features of PEN that make it your first choice for practice guidance:

PEN Practice Enhancement Tools What This Tool Will Do For You
Background Provides "general knowledge" information about a topic/condition/issue that will be useful to new practitioners or will serve as a refresher for more experienced health professionals.
Client Tools and Resources With just a click of your mouse, links you to tools and resources for clients that have been reviewed with the PEN evidence.
Contact Us Enables you to contact the PEN team for technical, content or subscription issues or feedback.
Evidence Summary Provides an overview of the level of evidence supporting all key practice points in a Knowledge Pathway.
Health Professional Tools and Resources Links you to the best in evidence-based practice guidance tools and resources with just a click of your mouse.
My Account Lets you update your personal profile with changes to your contact information to ensure receipt of messaging from PEN.
PEN Client Handouts Enables you to download client and practitioner-tested tools designed according to the best evidence in adult education. PEN Client Handouts may be customized with your own logo and contact information. Resources may also be emailed from PEN directly to your client or colleague. Some of these handouts are available in various languages and have been adapted for multi-cultural foods and dietary practices.
PEN eNews PEN eNews is available for all dietitians, dietetic interns and dietetic / nutrition students in addition to PEN subscribers. It is designed to build capacity for evidence-based practice, optimize the use of PEN by subscribers and inform them of new and important content.
Powerful search capabilities Helps you find what you are looking for quickly and easily using any of three methods: search by key words, narrow your search using the "Advanced Search" feature, or browse the Table of Contents.
Practice Guidance Summary Provides a brief summary or overview of the Key Practice Points written as educational guidelines for the practitioner to use with clients / consumers.
Searchable glossary Provides instant definitions of terms through embedded links. For example, place your mouse over the term "hypertension" to see the definition for "hypertension."
Submit a practice question Can't find an answer to your practice question? This feature enables you to contribute to PEN's practice question database to build future content for the service.
Toolkit Provides easy access to practice information through separate Nutrition Care Process sections and incorporating International Dietetics and Nutrition Terminology (IDNT). Toolkits or PETs (Practice-based Evidence Toolkits) will replace most Practice Guidance Summaries (PGSs).
What's New? Keeps you abreast of new content added to PEN since your last visit and what's on the horizon for new and enhanced Knowledge Pathway topics.

1Canadian Institutes of Health Research defines "knowledge translation" as the exchange, synthesis and ethically-sound application of knowledge - within a complex system of interactions among researchers and users - to accelerate the capture of the benefits of research for Canadians through improved health, more effective services and products, and a strengthened health care system. [cited 2008 15 Jul].