A Qualitative Assessment of Program Characteristics for Preventing Secondary Conditions in Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol Vol 21(2):e246-e259; July 9, 2014
Original Research
Christie LM Patrenko, Naira Tahir, Erin C Mahoney, Nancy P Chin

Background

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a major public health problem that affects 2 to 5 percent of the population. Individuals with FASD are at high risk for secondary conditions, such as mental health problems, school disruptions, and trouble with the law. Evidence-based intervention programs are needed to prevent and treat secondary conditions in this population.  
 
Objectives
The purpose of this study was to identify intervention program characteristics for preventing secondary conditions in individuals with FASD from the perspectives of parents and service providers. 
 
Methods
This qualitative study utilized a phenomenological approach to identify program characteristics for preventing secondary conditions. Twenty-five parents of children (ages 3 to 33) with FASD and 18 service providers participated in focus groups or individual interviews. Data was systematically analyzed using a framework approach. Themes did not differ by participant type. 
 
Results
Participants emphasized five primary characteristics of intervention programs for individuals with FASD. Programs need to 1) be available to individuals across the lifespan, 2) have a prevention focus, 3) be individualized, 4) be comprehensive, and 5) be coordinated across systems and developmental stages. Participants discussed a variety of specific intervention strategies for each developmental stage and setting.  
 
Conclusions
Program characteristics identified in this study are consistent with a positive behavior support framework. This framework is discussed in the context of research on existing interventions for individuals with FASD, and recommendations for future intervention development and evaluation are highlighted. 
 
Key Words: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; fetal alcohol syndrome; secondary conditions; prevention; intervention; qualitative methods
 

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