Awareness and use of Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) by health professionals in a developing country
Introduction The degree of disability in children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) can be evaluated with the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), a valid tool which was designed for such purposes. However, there appears to be paucity of data on the awareness and use of the GMFCS particularly in the Sub-Saharan continent where the condition is still prevalent. Thus, this study aims to describe awareness, use, merits and demerits of the GMFCS system as perceived by health professionals who take care of children with CP.
Methods: This was a cross sectional study of health professionals from three Nigerian teaching hospitals. Information obtained via structured questionnaire were demographic data, years of qualification, years of experience of working with children with CP, awareness, use, merits and demerits of the GMFCS. Factors associated with use of the GMFCS were also evaluated with the Chi-square analysis.
Results: 78 health professionals participated in the study and majority (58.9%) were doctors. 55 (70.5%) of the study participants were aware of the GMFCS but only 33(42.3%) were using it. The nurses were neither aware of the system nor using it. A higher proportion of therapists (65.4%) were familiar with the system compared to the doctors (54.3%) . The location of practice was significantly associated with the use of the GMFCS (p=0.013). More doctors noted the merits and demerits of the system compared to the therapists.
Conclusion: Though health professionals were aware of the GMFCS only a small proportion was using this vital tool in the clinical setting. Thus, there is the need to create more awareness on GMFCS and its clinical utility, and the training of nurses should be of paramount importance in the developing country.
Key words: Awareness, cerebral palsy, gross motor function classification system, developing country