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Understanding physicians' attitudes toward people with Down syndrome

Authors

  • Jill E. Pace,

    1. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Mikyong Shin,

    1. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
    2. RTI International, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Sonja A. Rasmussen

    Corresponding author
    1. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
    • 1600 Clifton Road NE, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MS E-86, Atlanta, GA 30333.
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  • How to Cite this Article: Pace JE, Shin M, Rasmussen SA. 2011. Understanding physicians' attitudes toward people with Down syndrome. Am J Med Genet Part A 155:1258–1263.

  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Abstract

Understanding attitudes of physicians toward people with Down syndrome is important because of the influence physicians have on the future of individuals with Down syndrome. However, few previous studies have assessed these attitudes. Using data from the 2008 DocStyles© survey, an annual online survey conducted in the United States, we assessed attitudes of physicians toward people with Down syndrome using a survey that included questions about opinions toward inclusive educational settings and workplaces, previous relationships with people with Down syndrome, and comfort in providing them with medical care. Approximately 20% of participants agreed that students with Down syndrome should go to special schools, and nearly a quarter agreed that including students with Down syndrome in regular classrooms is distracting. While 76.0% of respondents felt comfortable providing medical care to people with Down syndrome, 9.8% reported feeling uncomfortable, and 14.3% reported feeling neutral. Results showed that attitudes that supported inclusion and comfort with providing medical care were more commonly reported among non-Hispanic white physicians, those who had previous relationships with people with Down syndrome, pediatricians, and physicians working in a group or hospital setting. These data are helpful to guide the development of training materials and curricula for healthcare providers regarding Down syndrome. Published 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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