WHAT HUMAN SERVICE PROFESSIONALS KNOW AND WANT TO KNOW ABOUT FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME

Main Article Content

Linda Caley
Charles Syms
Luther Robinson
Julie Cederbaum
Madelyn Henry
Nancy Shipkey

Keywords

Fetal alcohol syndrome, community health services, child welfare, social work, community outreach, preventive health services

Abstract

Background


Although human service professionals are critical to prevention of primary and secondary disabilities among those who are or could be affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol surprisingly little information is available on their knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about this problem. This article presents the results from a statewide survey (2005) undertaken in the United States to gain such information.


 Objective


The purpose of the study was to: a) measure the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) of professionals working in the fields of child welfare/child protective services, foster care, and Medicaid enrollment, and b) use that knowledge to inform educational and training resources to help them with their work.


 Methods


A purposive sample of human service professionals in 42 counties completed a self-administered survey patterned after similar FAS surveys for other professionals.


 Results


The results were based on answers from 1,168 human service professional respondents that showed that they were knowledgeable about primary prevention. However, it also revealed that they had lesser knowledge of epidemiology, how to recognize children with FAS, and methods to work with them. The fact that 90% of the respondents reported they did not care for children with FAS - is an important finding.


 Conclusions


Although these findings suggest that human service professionals are knowledgeable about primary prevention, they lack additional education and assertive assessment protocols. These resources are needed to help them work with families and children who are already affected by exposure to alcohol in utero.

Abstract 191 | PDF Downloads 90

References

1. Stratton K, (Eds.), Howe C, Battaglia F. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention and Treatment. Washington: National Academy Press; 1996.
2. Streissguth A, Barr HM, Kogan J, Bookstein FL. Understanding the Occurrence of Secondary Disabilities in Clients with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Final Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seattle: University of Washington, Fetal Alcohol & Drug Unit, Tech. Rep. No. 96-06; 1996.
3. Egeland GM, Perham-Hester KA, Gessner BD, Ingle D, Berner JE, Middaugh JP. Fetal alcohol syndrome in Alaska, 1977 through 1992: An administrative prevalence derived from multiple data sources. American Journal of Public Health. 1998;88(5):781-6.
4. May P, Hymbaugh K, Aase J, Samet J. Epidemiology of fetal alcohol syndrome among American Indians of the southwest. Social Biology. 1983;30(4):374-87.
5. Streissguth A, Clarren S, Jones K. Natural history of the fetal alcohol syndrome: a 10-year follow-up of eleven patients. Lancet. 1985;2:85-91.
6. Barr HM, Streissguth AP. Identifying maternal self-reported alcohol use associated with fetalalcohol spectrum disorders. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2001;25(2):283-7.
7. Dillman D. Mail and telephone surveys: The Total Design Method. New York: Wiley; 1978.
8. Tough S, C Clarke M, Hicks M. Knowledge and attitudes of Canadian Psychiatrists regarding fetal alcohol; spectrum disorder. The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review. 2003;12(3):64-71.
9. Hicks M, Sauve R, Lyon A, Clarke M, Tough S. Alcohol use and abuse in pregnancy: an evaluation of the merits of screening. The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review. 2003;12(3):77-80.
10. Diekman ST, Floyd RL, Decoufle P, Schulkin J, Ebrahim SH, Sokol RJ. A survey of obstetrician- gynecologists on their patients' alcohol use during pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2000;95(5):756-63.
11. May P, Gossage J. Estimating the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: A summary. Alcohol, Research and Health. 2001; 25(3):159-67.
12. Bertrand J, Weber M, O'Connor MJ, Riley E, Johnson K, Cohen D. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:
Guidelines for referral and diagnosis. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eds. Atlanta: Department of Health and Human Services; 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2006 from: http://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/fas/documents/FAS _guidelines_accessible.pdf
13. Public Health Agency of Canada. FASD: A Framework for Action– Overview. 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2007 from the Public Health Association of Canada at: http://www.phac- aspc.gc.ca/fasd-etcaf/govresfasd- resgovetcaf_e.html.
14. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center for Excellence Starting the Conversation: Town Hall Meetings on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. 2004. Retrieved December 10, 2007 from Fetal
Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Center for Excellence at: http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov./
15. Chudley A, Conry J, Cook J, Loock C, Rosales T, LeBlance N. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: Canadian guidelines for diagnosis. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2005;172 (5 supp):s1- s21.
16. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Center for Excellence. Online education and training modules. (2007). Retrieved December 10, 2007 from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Center for Excellence at: http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov./