Helping Family Practitioners Improve Developmental Services in Primary Care

September 2, 2008

PI: Laura McGuinn, MD, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center


Children with disabilities benefit from early intervention (EI) but often are not recognized or enrolled in services as early as possible, limiting service impact and the chance for children to reach their optimal potential.  Many children, especially those in rural areas who are at increased risk for developmental disabilities, see Family Practitioners (FPs).  Studies indicate FPs lack information regarding early identification and EI services and use less accurate methods to monitor children's development.  Therefore, improving FPs awareness, knowledge, and practices related to developmental screening and referral to EI is a key strategy to improving earlier identification and intervention.

Long Term Objectives:  To improve the developmental surveillance and screening services provided by FPs, enhance communication between FPs and EI services, and thereby increase FPs' referrals to EI services.

Specific Aims: To develop, implement, and evaluate a pilot program which helps FPs improves awareness, knowledge, and office processes regarding developmental surveillance, screening, and referral to early intervention (EI).

Participants include 12 Family Practitioners in a rural Canadian county, Oklahoma (6 in year one and 6 in year two) who see children from birth to 3 years for well-child visits.  The project will conduct a 9 month multifaced in-office intervention for FPs comprised of academic detailing, performance feedback, and practice facilitation regarding developmental surveillance, screening, and referral to early intervention.