Evaluating health visitors’ existing knowledge of Down syndrome and the effect of a training workshop

Silvana Mengoni, Sandra Redman

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Children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk of health and development issues in early childhood, therefore monitoring their development and identifying health conditions as early as possible is critical. Health professionals may not always have the training and knowledge to effectively support families of children with disabilities, including Down syndrome. In the UK, health visitors conduct health and development reviews for children under 5 years, therefore they have a key role to play in monitoring and identifying health issues in young children with Down syndrome. However there has been no research on health visitors' knowledge and training needs regarding Down syndrome. This study aimed to assess health visitors' existing knowledge of Down syndrome and evaluate a pilot Down syndrome training session for health visitors. Twenty-six health visitors from two NHS Trusts in England participated in 1 of 5 group training workshops. Pretraining and posttraining questionnaires assessed knowledge about Down syndrome, and feedback on the training session. Knowledge about Down syndrome was low prior to the training and increased significantly following the training session. Health visitors rated the training workshop very highly and would recommend it to a colleague. Health visitors identified a need for training to enable them to increase their knowledge about Down syndrome and better support families. In summary, a pilot training session about Down syndrome received positive feedback from health visitors, and led to improvements in knowledge and understanding about Down syndrome. This has the potential to improve health outcomes for children with Down syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • down syndrome
  • early development
  • health visiting
  • intellectual disabilities
  • workforce development


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