Despite the fact that autism is on the rise globally and in Cameroon specifically; few studies have been conducted on the phenomenon. These studies have mostly focused on speech and language development for children. Caring for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a challenge for nurses and literature reveals a lack of knowledge.
To investigate nurses’ knowledge and attitude regarding autism
The study employed a hospital based descriptive cross-sectional design. Purposive and convenient samplings were used to select the study sites and enroll participants to the study respectively. Participants were nurses in the Buea and Limbe Regional Hospitals in the South West Region of Cameroon. Respondents who met the inclusion criteria and gave their consent to participate in the study were selected. The Knowledge about Childhood Autism among Health Workers (KCAHW) questionnaire was adapted and employed to collect data. Data were entered and analysed using Epi Info 126.96.36.199, at p<0.05.
A total of 41 respondents participated in the study. The study revealed that 24.4% of participants were not knowledgeable on ASD, 97.6% had not attended any seminar or read any information on autism, 50% heard of autism in the community and 40.65% of the respondents had positive attitudes towards autism. It also revealed that knowledge on autism had an association (p<0.001) with qualification, years of working experience and their units of work but was not dependent (p>0.001) on gender.
The study concluded that even though more than half of the respondents had basic knowledge on autism, there is still need for autism spectrum disorders to be included in the training curriculum as well as the organisation of seminars for nurses to improve and upgrade their knowledge. This may go a long way to enhance quality care for children with autism in Cameroon.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders, nurses, knowledge, autism, attitudes
Audience Take Away Notes:
- Overall, nurses in SWR Cameroon have basic knowledge on autism
- There is need for autism spectrum disorder to be included in the training programmes for nurses in Cameroon
- There is need to organise seminars for nurses to improve and upgrade their knowledge on autism
- This may go a long way to enhance quality care for children with autism in Cameroon
- It be a reminder to Audience that they need to have the competencies to render quality and safe care to all including persons with autism
- Audience will seek knowledge and skills in this area
- It could help Audience to conduct a further research in this area and teachers could use the findings of this research to create awareness among student nurses on the special care of this special population
- It could help in the revision and designing of nursing programmes
- It will help to improve the accuracy of a design, or provide new information to assist in a design problem
5. Other benefits:
- It will help to train nurses who are empowered to meet the challenges in caring for persons with autism and families
- It will help to create awareness about autism among nurses, other heath professionals and the general public
- It will help to reduce stigmatisation and enhance access to quality care for this group and their families