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To determine approaches of providers to the diagnosis of FASD.
Between October 2001 and May 2002, a survey was mailed to a national random sample of paediatricians, psychiatrists, obstetricians and gynaecologists, family physicians, and midwives in Canada, who were current members of professional organisations (N=5361).
The overall response rate was 41.3%. Over 90% of providers agreed that a diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can change things for affected children and 75% agreed making a diagnosis is within their scope of practice. The most noted barrier to diagnosis was lack of training (56.4%). The most common sources of FAS information were medical journals (76.4%), medical school (63.6%), and Continuing Medical Education (CME) seminars (50.9%). Approximately 60% of providers correctly identified the combination of growth, brain and facial abnormalities as providing the most accurate diagnosis of FAS. Over 60% of providers identified emotional disorders, disrupted school experience, addictions and legal problems as long term outcomes associated with FAS. There were significant differences (p≤0.001) across provider group with regard to scope of practice, barriers to diagnosis, source of knowledge, diagnostic knowledge, and understanding of long term outcomes.
Providers have identified lack of training as a barrier to diagnosis of FAS. Thus, there are potential opportunities for provider training to improve the probability of diagnosis for affected children.
Key Words: fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; fetal alcohol syndrome; diagnosis; physician?s practice patterns; professional practice; knowledge; education
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