Research

A support programme for registered nurses in the early identification of autism spectrum disorders in primary healthcare clinics: A pilot study

A-M Wium, M de Jongh

Abstract


Background. Registered nurses in South Africa often work in community clinics in primary healthcare (PHC), where they are first in line to be consulted by families with children with disabilities. There has been limited research with a focus on interprofessional collaboration regarding autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the local context. A support programme was developed to inform registered nurses in PHC of the symptoms and characteristics of ASDs in order to increase the number of referrals to specialists for early diagnosis.

Objectives. To determine the effectiveness of a support programme for registered nurses in PHC clinics, and to raise awareness of ASDs.

Methods. Two PHC clinics in a semirural area in Gauteng Province, SA, were included in the study, in which 10 registered nurses participated. A descriptive, quantitative approach was used, and data were collected by means of self-administered questionnaires.

Results. The results confirmed that the support was effective, as participants showed an increase in knowledge and understanding of ASDs. Poor attendance and the limited sample size affected the outcomes.

Conclusion. A multidisciplinary approach to the early identification and referral of children with possible ASDs is important to improve the quality of life of these children and prevent further delays. Speech-language therapists should provide support to registered nurses in PHC, and training should be repeated on a continual basis to facilitate long-term retention and to accommodate shift changes within clinics.


Authors' affiliations

A-M Wium, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, School of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa

M de Jongh, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, School of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa

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Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Early identification; Primary healthcare (PHC); Registered nurses; Continued professional development; Semirural context

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2018;10(2):136-140. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2018.v10i2.963

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-07-06
Date published: 2018-07-06

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