Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Physicians Exercising in Pediatric Departments on Autism: Case of Cocody, Treichville and Angre University Hospitals in Abidjan-Ivory Coast

Author(s): Aka Rita Ahou, Traore Brahim Samuel, Ahounou Etobo Innocent, Ipou Yves Stephane, Yeo-Tenena Yessonguilana Jean-Marie

Autism is a serious developmental disorder in children that has lifelong consequences. Its causes are multifactorial and the signs of the disease appear from the first years of life. Pediatricians and general practitioners are the first-line practitioners contacted by parents. Early detection associated with and adapted management considerably improves the prognosis. Our study, which aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and practices of doctors working in paediatric services on autism, was carried out over a three-month period. It involved pediatricians, physicians specializing in pediatrics, interns, and general practitioners; all of whom were active in the pediatric departments of the University Hospital Centers (CHU) of Cocody, Treichville, and Angre (city of Abidjan-Côte d'Ivoire). A total of 78 physicians were included, including 5 interns; 7 general practitioners; 47 physicians in specialization and 19 pediatricians. Most physicians had less than 5 years of professional experience. About 45% of doctors said they see more than 15 children a day ; with an estimated consultation time of 15 minutes in 47.4% of cases. In general, the normal psychomotor developmental milestones of the child were not well known and no physician was able to cite all the signs of the autistic triad. The main sources of information on this topic were personal research and hospital placements. The level of knowledge of these practitioners was considered insufficient and did not correlate with professional experience or qualification. However, all physicians felt that the care of children with autism was either the responsibility of child psychiatrists and/or neuropediatricians.

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