Carly Eichten, Ashley Kuhl, Mei Baker, Jennifer M. Kwon, Christine M. Seroogy, Katie B. Williams

Development and assessment of educational materials for spinal muscular atrophy carrier screening in the Plain community

  • Genetics (clinical)

AbstractSpinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been reported in both Amish and Mennonite (Plain) communities, and a higher incidence has been observed in certain Mennonite communities compared to the general population. There are several therapies for SMA, but all are most effective in pre‐symptomatic newborns. To identify couples from the Wisconsin Plain community who are most likely to have a child with SMA, carrier screening is offered via mailed kits with at‐home specimen collection. Our survey data about Plain families' perspectives on genetic testing suggest educational materials are needed for individuals providing informed consent with at‐home specimen collection. We therefore developed a Plain population‐specific educational trifold brochure about SMA carrier screening by incorporating existing medical education strategies and feedback from Plain community members and their health care providers. Along with the brochure, surveys were included in the kits to assess baseline knowledge about SMA carrier screening (“pre‐education”) as well as improvement in knowledge after reviewing the brochure and cultural appropriateness of the brochure (“post‐education”). Fifty‐five testing kits were distributed, and 26 survey pairs (pre‐ and post‐education) were returned and analyzed (response rate 47%). Respondents had high baseline knowledge with an average of 5 of 7 questions (71%) answered correctly on the pre‐education survey. Knowledge improved after reviewing the brochure as the average score increased to 6.5 of 7 questions (93%) answered correctly. Questions about risks of having an affected child after positive or negative carrier screening showed the most improvement from the pre‐education to post‐education surveys. Most respondents indicated the brochure was helpful, was easy to understand, and contained the right amount of information. Overall, incorporating elements of existing medical education strategies with feedback from the target population and stakeholders about appropriate language seems to be an effective method for creating beneficial, culturally responsive educational materials for the Plain population.

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