Developmental screening in South Africa: comparing the national developmental checklist to a standardized tool
Background: Worldwide, more than 200 million children in low- and middle-income countries have developmental delays and/or disabilities. In South Africa the only nationally implemented developmental ‘screening’ tool is integrated as part of ‘The Road to Health Booklet (RTHB).
Method: The study employed a comparative cross- sectional within-subject design to evaluate the accuracy of the RTHB developmental checklist against a standardized international tool i.e. the PEDS tools, consisting of the PEDS and PEDS:DM. A total of 201 participants were included through convenience sampling at primary health care facilities in Tshwane, South Africa.
Results: Sensitivity of the RTHB developmental checklist is low, but specificity is high. The RTHB developmental checklist failed to identify more than half the infants at risk of delays or disorders. The nationally implemented developmental checklist is ineffective to identify at-risk infants. It should be adapted and validated or replaced in order to improve identification of at-risk infants.
Key words: developmental screening, early identification, developmental delays or disorders, at-risk infants.