Shriver Center Autism Expert to Develop Training to Improve Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders among Diverse Cultures
Teaching Massachusetts pediatricians how to sensitively navigate diverse
cultures while screening children for autism spectrum disorders will be
the focus of a pilot project led by Elaine M. Gabovitch, an autism
expert at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, a unit within UMass Medical
School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. Gabovitch was awarded $80,000
from the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund.
“If a physician doesn’t understand the culture or speak the language…
children from non-English speaking families may not be picked up and get
the services they need to progress,” said Gabovitch, director of the
Center’s Family & Community Partnerships.
“The pilot will focus on helping pediatric providers overcome cultural
barriers during the screening and referral process,” said Gabovitch, who
also serves as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s autism
awareness campaign Ambassador to Massachusetts.
Varying cultural expectations and/or language differences between
physicians and patients could mean some children from non-English
speaking backgrounds are identified later than recommended, or not at
all, Gabovitch said.
The grant award announced today will support the design of a training
curriculum to help bridge that gap. It will be developed from the Considering
Culture in Autism screening kit created by Gabovitch and
a team through a 2012 grant from the Association of Maternal and
Child Health Programs.
While the training will be designed to help pediatricians deliver
culturally competent care to children from any linguistic background,
four populations will be featured to illustrate such care in practice:
Hispanic, Chinese, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese. These groups represent
the leading populations in Massachusetts for whom English is not their
The pilot training will be implemented in March 2014 with sixty
pediatric residents at Boston Medical Center and the Floating Hospital
for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. A video production
company specializing in intercultural communications will film case
study video vignettes that will be embedded in the final training module.
A report including measures of knowledge and attitude before and after
training will be written next fall. The module will be submitted for
inclusion in the CDC Autism
Case Training curriculum.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the
fastest-growing academic health sciences centers in the country, has
built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently
producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The
Medical School attracts more than $255 million in research funding
annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The
mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of
the people of Massachusetts and the world, through pioneering education,
research, public service and health care delivery. Commonwealth
Medicine, the Medical School’s health care consulting and operations
division, provides a wide range of care management and consulting
services to government agencies and health care organizations. For more
information, visit commed.umassmed.edu.
Copyright Business Wire 2013