Preventing Drift through Continued Co-Design with a First Nations Community: Refining the Prototype of a Tiered FASD Assessment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 7;19(18):11226. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191811226.


As part of the broader Yapatjarrathati project, 47 remote health providers and community members attended a two-day workshop presenting a prototype of a culturally-safe, tiered neurodevelopmental assessment that can identify fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in primary healthcare. The workshop provided a forum for broad community feedback on the tiered assessment process, which was initially co-designed with a smaller number of key First Nations community stakeholders. Improvement in self-reported attendee knowledge, confidence, and perceived competence in the neurodevelopmental assessment process was found post-workshop, assessed through self-report questionnaires. Narrative analysis described attendee experiences and learnings (extracted from the workshop transcript), and workshop facilitator experiences and learnings (extracted from self-reflections). Narrative analysis of the workshop transcript highlighted a collective sense of compassion for those who use alcohol to cope with intergenerational trauma, but exhaustion at the cyclical nature of FASD. There was a strong desire for a shared responsibility for First Nations children and families and a more prominent role for Aboriginal Health Workers in the assessment process. Narrative analysis from workshop facilitator reflections highlighted learnings about community expertise, the inadvertent application of dominant cultural approaches throughout facilitation, and that greater emphasis on the First Nation's worldview and connection to the community was important for the assessment process to be maintained long-term. This study emphasised the benefit of continued co-design to ensure health implementation strategies match the needs of the community.

Keywords: co-design; fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; first nations peoples; neurodevelopmental assessment; primary health care.

MeSH terms

  • American Indians or Alaska Natives
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • Pregnancy