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More Pediatricians Utilizing Formal Screening Tools

Pediatricians increase their use of screening tools to identify developmental delays earlier

MONDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- An increased use of developmental tools by pediatricians was observed between 2002 and 2009, according to a study published online June 27 in Pediatrics.

Linda Radecki, from the American Academy of Pediatrics in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and colleagues investigated changes in the use of developmental screening tools by pediatricians between 2002 and 2009. Periodic surveys were mailed to 1,617 practitioners in 2002 and to 1,620 in 2009. The survey response rate was 55 percent in 2002 and 57 percent in 2009. Differences in use of one or more formal screening tools were compared across survey years, after controlling for various individual and practice characteristics.

The investigators found a significant increase in the use of standardized screening tools between 2002 and 2009. There was an increase over time in those who self-reported use of one or more formal screening tools always or almost always, from 23.0 to 47.7 percent. The use of specific instruments, like the Ages & Stages Questionnaire and Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status, also increased over time. No differences were observed in the use of the tools on the basis of physician or practice characteristics.

"The percentage of pediatricians who reported using ≥1 formal screening tools more than doubled between 2002 and 2009. Despite greater attention to consistent use of appropriate tools, the percentage remains less than half of respondents providing care to patients younger than 36 months," the authors write.

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