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Abstract

Purpose: An evaluation of Feeding Difficulties in Children: A Guide for Allied Health Professionals (2016) was undertaken to determine how the publication has been utilised amongst allied health professionals across NSW. This evaluation aimed to identify the usefulness of the Guide in supporting the assessment and management of children with feeding difficulties. Results will inform future education and support strategies. Method: The evaluation targeted allied health professionals employed by NSW Health. An online questionnaire formed the primary method of data collection. Four semi-structured focus groups also occurred to provide complementary qualitative information. Results: Clinicians from a range of professions and healthcare settings responded to the online questionnaire (N=100) and participated in focus groups (N=15), reflecting the range of allied health professionals who work with children with feeding difficulties. Qualitative and quantitative data obtained identified a number of key themes. The data collected provided a robust overview of how the Guide has been utilised. The main findings relate to five key themes: characteristics of respondents and their teams; use of the Guide; knowledge of content; satisfaction with the Guide; and future directions. Conclusions: The evaluation indicated that the Guide is viewed as a useful tool by allied health professionals working with children with feeding difficulties. Experienced respondents reported that the Guide provided validation for current practice whereas those with less experience indicated it supported their work within this clinically complex realm. Further promotion of the Guide and multi-modal education regarding its use is recommended.

Author Bio(s)

Carmel Blayden, MHPE, MHlthSc, BAppSc(OT), is an Allied Health Educator with the NSW Children's Healthcare Network.

Kate Holland, MNutrDiet,BAppSc(SpPath), is a Senior Dietitian, Child & Family Community Health, Sydney Local Health District.

Sonia Hughes, BAppSc(SpPath), is an Allied Health Educator with the NSW Children's Healthcare Network.

Jennifer Nicol, MEd(HlthProf), MHA, BAppSc(SpPath), is an Allied Health Educator with the NSW Children's Healthcare Network.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the work of the allied health professionals working with children with feeding difficulties.

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