Knowledge of clinical assessment of fetal alcohol syndrome: how much is taught in a pa school curriculum?

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Embargo End Date
Hinkle, Michelle Kaylene
Day, David

The effects of maternal alcohol use on unborn children have been observed for millennia. These effects include abnormal facial variations, growth retardation, neurological or behavioral problems, decreased cognitive functioning, poor socialization skills, and attention and distractibility problems. Patients may have any degree of symptoms, from mild to severe, or any combination thereof, thus presenting health care providers with the dilemma of correct diagnosis.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the curricula of the Physician Assistant education programs regarding clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Design – Cross sectional, evaluative survey.

Participants – all US PA programs.

Measurement- A responder from each PA program [either Director or faculty member] was asked a series of 5 questions concerning knowledge of the disorder, diagnosis and treatment, and adequacy of the training provided.

Data Analysis - Data was collected and analyzed using standard statistical estimates.

Results -69 programs responded to the survey, for a response rate of 51.1%. Most PA programs (94%) believe there is a need for FAS education in PA schools. Although the majority of the programs that responded did so in the affirmative to our questions, the average total time spent talking about FAS in the classroom was only 0.873 hours. This is likely not enough time to adequately explain all of the subtopics and special issues concerning FAS that were addressed in the survey instrument, and may also indicate that PA students are not getting the quality of education needed to diagnose FAS. Limitations of this study may include inadequate number of responses, unknowledgeable responder, intentional false answering, and/or design error.

Table of Content
A project presented to the Department of Physician Assistant of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physician Assistant.