New NHMRC Grant: A tiered approach to the diagnosis of FASD

Associate Prof Dianne Shanley, Prof Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, Karen Moritz, Prof Sheena Reilly, Prof Robert Ware, Associate Prof Joshua Byrnes, Prof Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Prof Amanda Wheeler and Dr. Kerryann Walsh were awarded $1,070,761 for the project ‘A Tiered Approach to the Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Remote Indigenous Primary Care Settings’, that will be hosted by the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith Health, Griffith University.

Grant excerpt: Innovative, flexible solutions are essential to ensure that children in remote Indigenous communities have access to diagnostic services early in life. While beneficial for complex cases, the FAB is not always required. Our team has demonstrated in a recent pilot study, that when provided the right tools, remote general practitioners (GPs) consulting with other disciplines can make accurate FASD diagnoses. This is a cost-effective method that allows early detection. Our team has developed the Tiered Assessment Battery (TAB): an innovative, culturally-sensitive, abbreviated FASD assessment that is consistent with the Australian Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD. It relies on primary care as the home point of coordination; it screens for neurodevelopmental problems, and where appropriate, provides the structured decision support tools to allow GPs to make a FASD diagnosis. Our aim is to determine whether the TAB can accurately diagnose FASD, relative to the FAB, in a remote Indigenous setting. The outcome will be the most expedient, validated screening and assessment protocol for FASD in Australia, with widespread applicability. In addition, the cost and economic net benefits of implementing the TAB will be calculated and the generalisability of the TAB to new remote Indigenous communities will be assessed to further extend translation

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