Ethiopian community health workers’ beliefs and attitudes towards children with autism: impact of a brief training intervention

Dejene Tilahun, Abebaw Fekadu Wassie, Bethlehem Tekola Gebru, Mesfin Araya, Ilona Roth, Basiro Davey, Charlotte Hanlon, Rosa Anna Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
271 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

There is a severe shortage of services for children with autism in Ethiopia; access to services is further impeded by negative beliefs and stigmatising attitudes towards affected children and their families. To increase access to services, care provision is decentralised through task-shifted care by community health extension workers (HEWs). This study aimed to examine the impact of a brief training (Health Education and Training; HEAT) for Ethiopian rural HEWs and comprised three groups: i) HEWs who completed a basic mental health training module (HEAT group, N=104); ii) HEWs who received enhanced training, comprising basic HEAT as well as video-based training on developmental disorders and a mental health pocket guide (HEAT+ group, N=97); iii) HEWs untrained in mental health (N=108). All participants completed a questionnaire assessing beliefs and social distance towards children with autism. Both the HEAT and HEAT+ group showed fewer negative beliefs and decreased social distance towards children with autism compared to the untrained HEW group, with the HEAT+ group outperforming the HEAT group. However, HEAT+ trained HEWs were less likely to have positive expectations about children with autism than untrained HEWs. These findings have relevance for task-sharing and scale up of autism services in low-resource settings worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism
Early online date25 Sept 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sept 2017

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