Talking Points for Reaching Out to Health Care Professionals/Providers (HCPs)*

The FASD Prevention project seeks to increase HCP knowledge of the risks alcohol poses to a fetus, the use of FASD prevention strategies, including the use of screening and assessment methods, and the use of consistent messaging with patients/clients: no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

Since the focus of this project is very specific to HCPs, we have provided some key issues to address when speaking to HCPs or their staff.

  • HCPs are instrumental in influencing women’s health choices, especially during pregnancy or when planning a pregnancy. Many women are not informed of the risks associated with drinking while pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 pregnant women reported drinking in the past 30 days. However, nationally, 1 in 6 adults talk with their HCPs about drinking. This is an under reported issue where HCPs can make an impact.
  • All staff in the health care setting are capable of reinforcing the prevention message to women about the risks of drinking during pregnancy. The health care setting provides multiple opportunities to inform women about FASDs. Providing materials such as brochures, posters, etc. in waiting rooms, clinics and other patient areas heighten awareness and create opportunities for women to ask about FASDs. The FASD toolkit provides information and resources to help train staff and create an information rich setting.
  • Screening and brief intervention can reduce alcohol consumption in patients by 25%. Many women are unaware that their drinking habits may be at risk. Women’s health is particularly affected, even in small amounts. By screening all women of child-bearing age, HCPs can create awareness of unsafe alcohol use and promote healthy, lifelong habits.
  • Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Unplanned or unintended pregnancies are the biggest challenge to FASD prevention. Women who are not planning a pregnancy may drink without knowing they may be pregnant. Understanding safe alcohol use and using appropriate protection is vital in supporting women’s health and prevention of FASDs.

Strategies to keep in mind:

  • Many HCP offices are busy and you may be faced with difficulty in contacting an HCP directly. Be prepared to speak to an office manager or reception staff.
  • Be mindful of the different shifts in the office and be ready to reiterate your message to the office staff working at varying times.
  • Offer a follow up time to come in to talk about the materials if the initial meeting is rushed or cut short. This gives the HCP and office personnel a chance to review the materials and ask for tips in disseminating the message.
  • If you are only able to talk to someone over the phone, always get contact information and follow up at a later date.
  • If you are unable to drop off toolkit materials, then always refer to our downloadable toolkit materials: www.thearc.org/FASD-Prevention-Project/resources/toolkit
  • Remember that our website is a resource for HCPs and for you, as well. There are webinars, research articles, information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal resources, and content provided by our FASD experts.

In addition, you can count on the FASD team to support you in your outreach efforts.

  • We’ll talk with you as a group and individually throughout the year to plan out strategies you can consider to connect with local HCPs
  • We’re working with numerous national organizations that have local members and we’re eager to connect you to these local or state representatives to talk about strategies you can consider to connect with local HCPs

*Talking points were culled from various sources including, The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’s FASD: What the Health Care System Should Know, www.nofas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/healthcare_FASD.pdf, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) web site, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/ and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Women and Alcohol web site, www.womenandalcohol.org/clinicians.htm.