Honors Program

[Honors-in-Discipline (Choose below)], Honors in Nutrition

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Whitney Bignell, Mary Andreae

Thesis Professor Department

Rehabilitative Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Whitney Bignell, Mary Andreae


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects women’s menstrual cycles, androgen (male hormones) levels, and cysts on the ovaries. This endocrine disorder has various symptoms, with insulin resistance as a hallmark symptom. Approximately 65-70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, whether or not they are overweight, obese, or lean (Marshall & Dunaif, 2012). Many women with PCOS struggle to lose weight because their excess weight is related to nutrition, lifestyle factors, and imbalanced hormones. Understanding PCOS as a metabolic disorder with nutritional implications led to investigating the potential benefit of having registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) as part of the healthcare team of women with PCOS. We developed a survey based on the literature on PCOS, diet/nutrition interventions, and the role of RDNs in the healthcare team of PCOS women of childbearing age. Only childbearing-age women (18–44) diagnosed with PCOS were eligible to complete the survey. The survey was designed as a needs assessment to determine if women with PCOS are routinely referred to RDNs for support; whether or not such support is beneficial; and what gaps in knowledge or misconceptions about nutrition and PCOS exist among participants. Most importantly, it was designed to examine if women understand how nutrition relates to managing their PCOS symptoms and future disease risks. The data from this survey shows the need for RDNs on the healthcare team of women with PCOS and gives us an understanding of nutrition education interventions that could be developed for future studies. Understanding how RDNs play a role in symptom management could lead to a better quality of life for women with PCOS.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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