© Borgis - New Medicine 2/2013, s. 50-54
Dóra Varga1, Noémi Sulyok2, *Helga Judit Feith3, Zsuzsanna Soósné Kiss4, Eszter Sajó5, Zsuzsa Várnai5, István Vingender3
Comparative research of autism related university studies and family care plans of hungarian health visitor students
1Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Dean: Judit Mészáros, PhD
2Health Service Nonprofit Limited Liability Company of Újpest
3Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: Helga Judit Feith, PhD
4Department of Health Sciences and Clinical Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: Hollós Sándor, PhD
5Clinical Child Psychologist, Nemzetközi Cseperedő Alapítvány
Aim. The number of autistic children has been increasing in the last few decades. The aims of our surveys were to examine the university studies about autism and explore future caring plans based on the acquired knowledge of the Hungarian health visitor students.
Material and methods. Full-time health visitor students were involved in our quantitative research in Hungary. The participants were students of BSc level medical education in Budapest, Miskolc and Szeged. 131 people gave valuable answers (total response rate: 74.8%).
Results. 63.8% of the health visitor students have received some information about autism during their training programme, but only 8% of them considered this information to be detailed. 24.2% of the students of Semmelweis University, 16.2% of the University of Szeged and none of the health visitor students from Miskolc – for that matter incorrectly- reckoned autism as developmental disorder (p = 0.003). Only 20.0% of the respondents thought, they can get in adequate contact with autistic children according to their current knowledge, but 54.9% of them weren’t sure about it.
Conclusions. We can conclude that the majority of health visitor students do not have sufficient knowledge of autism which may reduce the quality of their work in the future. Therefore (future) health visitors must be given the opportunity to get detailed information on this topic, during the training programmes of BSc and after graduation.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is caused by a brain abnormality. It is a pervasive developmental disorder which leads to a lifelong impairment state. The term “spectrum” refers to a wide range of symptoms, which can vary from a quite severe disability associated with multiple disorders to a more or less well compensated state (1-3, 6, 10, 12-14). According to the survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of children with autism has increased by 78% in the last 6 years and by 600% in 20 years (7). Based on the latest data around 1 in 88 children has ASD (2, 6, 7, 10, 12). According to our knowledge there is no proven cure for autism yet, but by the help of early diagnosis and developmental interventions, we can improve their capabilities and the quality of life (2, 10, 12). The increasing prevalence of autism and its multiple manifestation raise the chance that experts of the concerned areas (such as paediatrician, psychologist, dietician, physiotherapist, health visitor) meet children with autism during their work more frequently nowadays.
The Hungarian service of health visitors has a nearly 100 year-old history. Health visitors are highly qualified medical experts who work in the field of primary health care. Their work roles are based on the duties of the primary and secondary prevention (8, 11, 16).
Health visitors are able to detect the early signs of autism with the help of screening tests, this is how they contribute to the diagnosis of autism. It is important for the health visitors to have appropriate knowledge about autism in order to carry out their work with self-confidence and on a high professional level. As far as we know, there have been no studies to explore autism related university studies among health visitors in Hungary.
The aim of the presented study was to examine and compare the health visitor students’ training programme and their knowledge about autism in the medical universities of Budapest, Miskolc and Szeged. We explored how well they consider themselves prepared for the care of children with autism and their families.
RESEARCH METHOD AND SAMPLE
Full-time third and fourth-year health visitor students were invited to our national, quantitative, questionnaire-based research. They participated in training programmes at Semmelweis University, the University of Szeged and the University of Miskolc. Our survey was carried out in Budapest 2011. The response rate was 74.8% (N = 131).
The self-filled questionnaire contained 31 closed and 9 opened questions. Questions included the socio-demographical characteristics of the respondents, items related to objective knowledge about disability and autism, and personal opinion about education related to autism in each university.
Data from the questionnaires were entered into the SPSS Data Entry. In addition to distribution tests, the Pearson’s chi-squared test was applied to measure bivariate relationships between categorical variables (p < 0.05).
Socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents
The respondents of our research included health visitor students (N = 131) of the Semmelweis University (S-student) – 48.9%, the University of Szeged (SZ-student) – 28.2%, and the University of Miskolc (M-student) – 22.9%. 58% of the respondents were third-year students and 42% of them were fourth-year students. The students’ average age was 22.9 years. The majority came from a two-child family (average number of siblings: 1.28).
Only 1.6% of the health visitor students indicated that there was a person with autism in their milieu, 14.3% of them had a family member with ASD. Among those students 4.7% lived in the same household with this person (N = 31).
23.8% of the health visitor students meet a person with autism regularly, 57.1% sometimes, and 61.9% of them have not had an opportunity to come into contact with him/her. None of the students concerned answered that they did not want to contact with an autistic person.
Evaluations of subjects related to autism by the undergraduates
The majority of health visitor students (63.8%) received some kind of information about autism within the compulsory courses in the university. 5.1% of them got detailed information, 30.8% have learnt it at elementary level and 27.9% of the students received only a few lectures on the topic. Slightly more than 1/3 of the undergraduates have not heard about autism yet, not even at the level of it being mentioned during the courses. In this respect, a statistically significant difference occurred between the universities (p < 0.001).
When filling the questionnaire, the students had to make a subjective evaluation of the main subject groups (clinical, psychological, professional subjects) related to education about autism, which cover the health visitor’s training programme. The evaluation was based on Hungarian school classification standards – where 1 = never studied about autism, it was not even mentioned, 5 = got comprehensive knowledge. According to the answers given by the students, it is interesting that the grades never reached good and excellent, typical marks were 2 and 3. In all of the cases, the differences were statistically significant between the universities (p < 0.001 and p = 0.003) (tab. 1).
Table 1. Subjective assessments related to higher education about autism (N= 131).
|Subjects possibly relating to autism||University of Miskolc||University of Szeged ||Semmelweis University||Correlations between the faculties|
|Clinical subjects||3||1.6||1.8||p < 0.001|
|Psychological subjects||3.7||2.3||2.6||p < 0.001|
|Professional subjects||3.4||2.3||2.6||p = 0.003|
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