Article Summary #8: Outcomes and Needs of FASD-Trained Health and Education Professionals

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This is a summary of the recent article Outcomes and needs of health and education professionals following fetal alcohol spectrum disorder specific training that is featured in CanFASD’s Top FASD Articles for 2020. For a complete understanding of the subject matter, we encourage you to read the full paper (not available open access).


Many individuals with FASD are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in Australia and New Zealand for a variety of reasons. There is no one specific test to identify FASD and there is a lack of awareness of this disability amongst health professionals. This lack of knowledge and awareness is a significant barrier to families accessing services.  As a result, Australia and New Zealand are offering both online and in-person training on FASD. The goal of this research was to examine the experiences of professionals who have received this training and explore the impact their training has had in their work.

The researchers collected data from 52 participants through an online survey in 2018. The participants were recruited through the Australian and New Zealand FASD Clinic Network. The survey asked questions about their training experiences, changes in their service provision post-training, experiences implementing assessments in their workplace, and their experiences implementing the Australian Guide for FASD Diagnosis.


The researchers found:

  • There was a wide variety in type and length of FASD training;
  • There has been an increase in FASD training attendance in the past 5 years;
  • Majority of participants currently work in multi-disciplinary teams and are interested in making assessments more accessible to health professionals;
  • The survey respondents described a number of perceived changes to their service provision post-training including an increase in:
  • asking about alcohol use during pregnancy;
  • providing referrals for FASD assessments;
  • Providing FASD assessments; and
  • Consultations with other professionals about FASD diagnosis.
  • Qualitative findings saw the themes of increased knowledge, awareness, and/or confidence about providing neurodevelopmental assessments and FASD diagnosis post-training.

Early diagnosis and assessment are key to improving outcomes for those with FASD, but this is reliant on health professionals’ knowledge and awareness of FASD. FASD training amongst health professionals has increased in Australia and New Zealand over the past five years. This training for professionals has yielded positive results, with professionals self-reporting improvements in their practice around FASD assessment and diagnosis. However, there are limitations to this study as it relies on the participants themselves to retrospectively identify changes in their practice. More research is needed with larger samples to better understand professional experiences and needs surrounding FASD training.

Journal: Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

Authors: Natasha Reid, Codi White, Erinn Hawkins, Andrea Crawford, Wei Liu, and Dianne Shanley.

Date: 29 August 2019

Read the full article (available open access)

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