Implementation of the Alarm Distress Baby Scale as a universal screening instrument in primary care: Feasibility, acceptability, and predictors of professionals’ adherence to guidelines

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Background: Infant socioemotional development is often held under informal surveillance, but a formal
screening program is needed to ensure systematic identification of developmental risk. Even when screening
programs exist, they are often ineffective because health care professionals do not adhere to screening guidelines,
resulting in low screening prevalence rates.
Objectives: To examine feasibility and acceptability of implementing universal screening for infant socioemotional
problems with the Alarm Distress Baby Scale in primary care. The following questions were addressed:
Is it possible to obtain acceptable screening prevalence rates within a 1-year period? How do the primary care
workers (in this case, health visitors) experience using the instrument? Are attitudes toward using the instrument
related to screening prevalence rates?
Design: A longitudinal mixed-method study (surveys, data from the health visitors’ digital filing system, and
qualitative coding of answers to open-ended questions) was undertaken.
Setting and participants: Health visitors in three of five districts of the City of Copenhagen, Denmark (N =79).
Methods: We describe and evaluate the implementation process from the date the health visitors started the
training on how to use the Alarm Distress Baby Scale to one year after they began using the instrument in
practice. To monitor screening prevalence rates and adherence to guidelines, we used three data extractions (6,
9, and 12 months post-implementation) from the electronic filing system. Surveys including both quantitative
and open-ended questions (pre- and post-implementation) were used to examine experiences with and attitudes
towards the instrument. Descriptive and inferential statistical and qualitative content analyses were used.
Results: Screening prevalence rates increased during the first year: Six months after implementation 47%
(n=405) of the children had been screened; 12 months after implementation 79% (n=789) of the children
were screened (the same child was not counted more than once). Most (92%) of the health visitors reported that
the instrument made a positive contribution to their work. The majority (81%) also reported that it posed a
challenge in their daily work at least to some degree. The health visitors’ attitudes (positive and negative) toward
the Alarm Distress Baby Scale, measured 7 months post-implementation, significantly predicted screening prevalence
rates 12 months post-implementation.
Conclusions: Adding the Alarm Distress Baby Scale to an established surveillance program is feasible and
accepTable Screening prevalence rates may be related to the primary care worker’s attitude toward the instrument,
i.e. successful implementation relies on an instrument that adds value to the work of the screener.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Sider (fra-til)104-113
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2018

ID: 195160667