Aim: The main aim of the current study was to evaluate the reliability, validity and acceptability of developmental monitoring using caregiver reports among mothers in a rural African setting.
Methods: A structured interview for parents of children aged 24 months and less was developed through both participant consultation and a review of literature. The reliability and validity of the schedule was evaluated through a 10-month monitoring programme of 95 children, aged 2-10 months. The acceptability of the process was evaluated by studying retention rates and by organizing focus group discussions with participating mothers.
Results: The structured interview 'Developmental Milestones Checklist' consisted of 66 items covering three broad domains of child functioning: motor, language and personal-social development. The interview yielded scores of developmental achievements that showed high internal consistency and excellent test-retest reliability. The results were sensitive to maturational changes and nutritional deficiencies. In addition, acceptable retention rates of approximately 80% were found. Participating mothers reported that they found the procedures both acceptable and beneficial.
Conclusion: Developmental monitoring using caregiver report is a viable method to identify and monitor at-risk children in Sub-Saharan Africa.