Combining Physician Expertise and Women’s Lived Experience to Educate Health Professionals about Preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Important paper in Maternal and Child Health Journal, Combining Physician Expertise and Women’s Lived Experience to Educate Health Professionals about Preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, was written by Saloni Sapru/Westat, Kathy Mitchell/FASD United, and Tonya McFadden/ACOG. The publication describes findings from qualitative interviews with FASD United (NOFAS at the time) speakers with lived experience and ACOG ob-gyn FASD champions to evaluate the ongoing partnership between FASD United and ACOG to co-present at Grand Round presentations. This is from earlier projects funded by CDC and the interviews were conducted from 2019–2021. This collaboration between FASD United and ACOG continues through our currently funded projects which have added additional ways to measure the impact of these co-presentations.
Physician Champions from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and trained women Speakers from FASD United, who have given birth to a child with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), copresent to healthcare providers (HCPs) in medical residency programs as part of an educational intervention. They present FASDs as a biological and social problem surrounded by stigma that prevent pregnant women from talking openly to their HCPs about their alcohol use or alcohol use disorder (AUD) and getting the medical help they need.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 ACOG Champions and nine FASD United Speakers and a thematic analysis assessed how the co-presentations can enhance HCPs’ understanding about FASDs and address stigma associated with alcohol use during pregnancy.
Interview findings indicated that both Champions and Speakers emphasized the need for HCPs to be nonjudgmental and create a safe space for open dialogue. They reported that residents were moved by mothers’ personal stories, wanted to understand AUD better, and asked about the type of help HCPs can offer women.
Combining physicians’ expertise with mothers’ personal stories of lived experiences of FASDs directed at residents, who are more reflective and open at this phase of their careers, moved them from a fact-based to an empathy-based approach to learning that is critical to address the stigma surrounding women who may be using alcohol or struggling with an AUD during pregnancy. Collaboration between national organizations allowed this intervention to be widely implemented across the country.
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