Mapping the Canadian Policy Landscape of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A National Scan of Government Strategies
CPS ePoster Library. Jones M. 06/25/15; 99096; 33
Marcella Jones
Marcella Jones
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Abstract
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Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a leading cause of preventable developmental delay in Canada, estimated to affect 3-10 per 1000 live births. Caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, FASD encompasses a continuum of physical and/or central nervous system abnormalities. The annual cost of FASD in Canada is estimated at $5.3 billion. The majority of these costs are related to associated mental illness, academic difficulties, legal problems, and unemployment. Given the prevalence of FASD in Canada, and the substantial social and economic consequences, government attention should be high and cross-sectoral government strategies are warranted. Such strategies should be well-designed, well-funded, and appropriately evaluated. Yet, little information has been synthesized about the FASD policy profile in Canada.

Objective: To systematically review the FASD strategic policy profile in Canada in order to understand how different jurisdictions are responding to FASD by identifying priorities, goals, key components of government strategies, and the extent to which a cross-sectoral approach is utilized.

Methods: A national cross-jurisdictional scan of all government documents was conducted in June 2014 based on Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review methodology. To meet our inclusion criteria, documents had to be publicly available, strategic or priority-setting, developed by a federal, provincial, or territorial government body, and address FASD specifically.

Results: Of the 209 records identified, 30 documents met our inclusion criteria; 8 were FASD-specific strategic documents and 22 were other government strategies that supported FASD activities. Of the 8 FASD-specific strategies, 2 were federal, 2 were produced by intergovernmental partnerships, and 4 were regional (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Yukon). Jurisdictions ranged from having no publicly released strategic documents to having comprehensive ten-year strategic plans. Some strategies focused on FASD as an individual issue whereas others used a social ecological model. Similarities among strategies included the commitment to a cross-sectoral approach and the focus on primary prevention.

Conclusion: This national policy scan provides valuable cross-jurisdictional insights about the FASD landscape in Canada. Across Canadian jurisdictions, significant variability was found with respect to the policy profile of FASD and the framing of the FASD issue. These cross-jurisdictional findings are useful to policymakers by synthesizing FASD strategies and identifying jurisdictional gaps. Further, for clinicians and researchers, it is helpful to understand opportunities for knowledge translation and avenues for informing evidence-based FASD policies.
Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a leading cause of preventable developmental delay in Canada, estimated to affect 3-10 per 1000 live births. Caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, FASD encompasses a continuum of physical and/or central nervous system abnormalities. The annual cost of FASD in Canada is estimated at $5.3 billion. The majority of these costs are related to associated mental illness, academic difficulties, legal problems, and unemployment. Given the prevalence of FASD in Canada, and the substantial social and economic consequences, government attention should be high and cross-sectoral government strategies are warranted. Such strategies should be well-designed, well-funded, and appropriately evaluated. Yet, little information has been synthesized about the FASD policy profile in Canada.

Objective: To systematically review the FASD strategic policy profile in Canada in order to understand how different jurisdictions are responding to FASD by identifying priorities, goals, key components of government strategies, and the extent to which a cross-sectoral approach is utilized.

Methods: A national cross-jurisdictional scan of all government documents was conducted in June 2014 based on Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review methodology. To meet our inclusion criteria, documents had to be publicly available, strategic or priority-setting, developed by a federal, provincial, or territorial government body, and address FASD specifically.

Results: Of the 209 records identified, 30 documents met our inclusion criteria; 8 were FASD-specific strategic documents and 22 were other government strategies that supported FASD activities. Of the 8 FASD-specific strategies, 2 were federal, 2 were produced by intergovernmental partnerships, and 4 were regional (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Yukon). Jurisdictions ranged from having no publicly released strategic documents to having comprehensive ten-year strategic plans. Some strategies focused on FASD as an individual issue whereas others used a social ecological model. Similarities among strategies included the commitment to a cross-sectoral approach and the focus on primary prevention.

Conclusion: This national policy scan provides valuable cross-jurisdictional insights about the FASD landscape in Canada. Across Canadian jurisdictions, significant variability was found with respect to the policy profile of FASD and the framing of the FASD issue. These cross-jurisdictional findings are useful to policymakers by synthesizing FASD strategies and identifying jurisdictional gaps. Further, for clinicians and researchers, it is helpful to understand opportunities for knowledge translation and avenues for informing evidence-based FASD policies.
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