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

Tilahun, Dejene; Fekadu, Abebaw; Tekola, Bethlehem; Araya, Mesfin; Roth, Ilona; Davey, Basiro; Hanlon, Charlotte and Hoekstra, Rosa A. (2019). Ethiopian community health workers' beliefs and attitudes towards children with autism: Impact of a brief training intervention. Autism, 23(1) pp. 39–49.

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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. This study aimed to examine the impact of a brief training (Health Education and Training; HEAT) for Ethiopian rural health extension workers and comprised three groups: (1) health extension workers who completed a basic mental health training module (HEAT group, N = 104); (2) health extension workers 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); and (3) health extension workers 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 health extension worker group, with the HEAT+ group outperforming the HEAT group. However, HEAT+ trained health extension workers were less likely to have positive expectations about children with autism than untrained health extension workers. These findings have relevance for task-sharing and scale up of autism services in low-resource settings worldwide.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Authors
ISSN: 1461-7005
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Increasing autism awareness and detection in Ethiopia: The HEAT + project. (SB-11-058-RH)7770Autism Speaks Foundation
Keywords: attitude; autism spectrum disorder; community health workers; developing countries; developmental disabilities; Ethiopia; stigma
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Life, Health and Chemical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 52292
Depositing User: Ilona Roth
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 11:48
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2020 04:10
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