Exploring service providers’ perspectives on the prevention and management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in South Africa : a qualitative study

Adebiyi, Babatope O. ; Mukumbang, Ferdinand C. ; Cloete, Lizahn G. ; Beytell, Anna-Marie (2018-11-06)

CITATION: Adebiyi, B. O., et al. 2018. Exploring service providers’ perspectives on the prevention and management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in South Africa : a qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 18:1238, doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6126-x.

The original publication is available at http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com

Article

Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is among the leading causes of developmental and intellectual disabilities in individuals. Although efforts are being made toward the prevention and management of FASD in South Africa, the prevalence remains high. The sustained high prevalence could be attributed to several factors, including the lack of policy for a coordinated effort to prevent, diagnose and manage FASD nationally. In this study, our aim was to explore the perspectives of service providers (health and allied professionals, teachers, social workers) on the prevention and management of FASD towards developing a guideline to inform policy. Method: Guided by the exploratory qualitative research design, we purposively sampled relevant service providers in the field of FASD prevention and management for focus group discussions. Nine of these discussions were conducted with to eight participants per discussion session. The discussants were asked various questions on the current and required interventions and practices for the prevention and management of FASD. Following the Framework Method, data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the thematic content analysis approach. Results: Our findings show that aspects of the prevention and management of alcohol-related conditions are present in various policies. However, there is no clear focus on coordinated, multi-sectoral efforts for a more comprehensive approach to the prevention and management of FASD. The participants recognized the need for specific requirements on broad-based preventive awareness programs, training and support for parents and caregivers, inclusive education in mainstream schools and training of relevant professionals. Conclusion: Comprehensive and coordinated prevention and management programs guided by a specific policy could improve the prevention and management of FASD. Policy formulation demonstrates commitment from the government, highlights the importance of the condition, and elaborates on context-specific prevention and management protocols.

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