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Measuring and understanding public awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alberta, Canada

Abstract

Aim

Efforts to increase public awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) sometimes fail to translate into direct changes in attitudes or behaviors regarding FASD. Therefore, it is essential to measure the level of FASD awareness before designing effective FASD prevention campaigns.

Subject and methods

The 2017 What Albertans Know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Survey (shortly FASD Survey) was a provincial effort to measure FASD awareness in Alberta, Canada. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of the survey in measuring FASD-related constructs. The sample consisted of 1205 adults who were 18 years of age or older and lived in Alberta, Canada. All participants were sampled using stratified sampling and then contacted by phone. The sampling frames of telephone numbers included both land lines and cell phones. First, the questions in the survey were examined based on descriptive statistics, question-level statistics, and scale-level statistics. Then, the Item Response Theory framework was used for analyzing the FASD Survey.

Results

The average nonresponse rates were less than 1%, except for a few questions that had up to 5% missing data. The participants responded to most questions in the FASD Survey very similarly, regardless of their gender. Based on point-biserial correlations, the questions indicated sufficient power to distinguish between the participants with different levels of the FASD constructs. Three subscales from the survey (Support and Prevention, Beliefs about FASD, and General Knowledge of FASD) indicated adequate internal consistency and question quality. However, the subscale of General Knowledge of FASD did not seem accurate enough in measuring higher levels of its construct. Some questions on the FASD Survey appeared to function differently across female and male participants.

Conclusion

The FASD Survey is a promising instrument to evaluate public awareness of FASD but it needs further improvement to make valid conclusions about FASD awareness.

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Data availability

The data set used in this study is available with required permission from PolicyWise for Children & Families’ (https://policywise.com/sage/).

Notes

  1. Five questions were removed from the subsequent analysis due to technical reasons, such as a lack of variability in responses and not being associated with the rest of the questions.

References

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Code availability

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Funding

This work was supported by PolicyWise for Children & Families’ SAGE Secondary Data Use Grant.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Data analysis was performed by Okan Bulut. The first draft of the manuscript was jointly written by Okan Bulut and Kathleen Kennedy. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Okan Bulut.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest for this study.

Ethics approval

This study (Pro00083988) was approved by the Research Ethics Board 2 (REB2) of the University of Alberta.

Consent to participate

Verbal informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethics statement

This study (Pro00083988) was approved by the Research Ethics Board 2 (REB2) of the University of Alberta.

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Appendix

Appendix

Support and Prevention

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman to not drink alcohol during pregnancy: The woman’s partner or spouse?

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman to not drink alcohol during pregnancy: The woman’s family?

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman to not drink alcohol during pregnancy: The woman’s friends?

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman not to drink alcohol during pregnancy: The woman herself?

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman to not drink alcohol during pregnancy: The community?

  • Who is responsible for supporting a woman to not drink alcohol during pregnancy: Government?

  • Best ways to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: No alcohol use while trying to get pregnant.

  • Best ways to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: No alcohol use during pregnancy.

  • Best ways to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Prevention should be determined between the woman and her doctor.

Beliefs about FASD

  • People with FASD might experience: Trouble with the law.

  • People with FASD might experience: Challenges with behavior.

  • People with FASD might experience: Learning difficulties.

  • People with FASD might experience: Difficulty keeping a job.

General FASD Knowledge

  • Alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to life-long disabilities in a child.

  • There is a safe amount of alcohol to consume while pregnant.

  • If using alcohol during pregnancy, some types of alcohol can have more harmful effects on the baby than others.

  • The last 3 months of a pregnancy is the safest time to consume alcohol while pregnant.

  • Most of the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy usually disappear as the child grows older.

  • Have you heard of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) before?

  • Can alcohol use during pregnancy cause FASD?

  • Do you think FASD can be prevented?

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Bulut, O., Kennedy, K. Measuring and understanding public awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alberta, Canada. J Public Health (Berl.) 30, 1693–1700 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-021-01550-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-021-01550-w

Keywords

  • FASD
  • Addiction
  • Health
  • Awareness
  • Measurement
  • Survey