An Analysis of Third Year Medical Students' Knowledge and Perceived Self-Efficacy to Counsel and Screen for Alcohol Use Among Pregnant Women
J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol Vol 18(3):e486-e493; October 10, 2011
Original Research
Katherine Ott Walter, Dianne L Kerr

Background
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are one of the leading preventable causes of mental retardation and birth defects in the United States. FASDs are 100% preventable if a mother does not consume alcohol during pregnancy. Research suggests that physician advice is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not a pregnant woman decreases her alcohol intake. However, most physicians receive very little training on counseling and screening pregnant women for alcohol use.

Objective
To assess the knowledge and perceived self-efficacy to counsel and screen for alcohol use among pregnant women in third year medical students at two Midwestern medical schools.

Methods
Third year medical students (n = 259) from two Midwestern medical schools were administered a questionnaire via Survey Monkey assessing their knowledge and perceived self-efficacy to counsel for alcohol use among pregnant women as well as their perceived self-efficacy to screen for alcohol use among pregnant women using the T-ACE, CAGE, TWEAK, MAST and AUDIT.

Results
Findings revealed that most participants were knowledgeable about the health risks associated with consuming alcohol while pregnant and the screening tools, but less knowledgeable about the self-help/group support and treatment programs available to patients. In contrast, when asked about their confidence in using the different screening tools, although reporting being knowledgeable, they were most confident in using the CAGE and least confident in using the TACE, TWEAK, MAST and AUDIT respectively.

Conclusions 
Recommendations are offered to medical schools for incorporating additional training in screening instruments and self-help/group support and treatment programs available to patients.

Keywords: Medical students, pregnant women, alcohol screening and counseling, FASD

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