Griffith research into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder wins $1.49m grant

Artist: Aunty Shirley Dawson, descendent of the Eastern Aranda Nation Group

A project designed to help screen children and adolescents at risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Grant worth $1.49 million.

Professor Dianne Shanley

Professor Dianne Shanley from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology and Menzies Health Institute Queensland is one of the Chief Investigators on the Tracking Cube which her team co-designed.

“The Tracking Cube originated when community members from remote Queensland voiced their concern around long waitlists for children,” Professor Shanley said.

“They wanted to ensure their children were supported close to home and placed on local treatment pathways as quickly as possible.

“The Tracking Cube is a culturally responsive, tiered neurodevelopmental screening approach that can be integrated with child well-health checks.

“Ultimately, it’s about screening at risk children and young people in primary healthcare so we can start them on early pathways of support and catch those who might otherwise fall through service gaps.”

A pilot implementation was conducted at an Indigenous remote primary health service which found neurodevelopmental concerns were four times more likely to be identified using the Tracking Cube compared to usual care.

The pilot was also able to place the 11 per cent of children identified as at-risk of FASD on local pathways of support.

Professor Shanley said the project will follow a Type 1 hybrid design using a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial to measure the effectiveness of the Tracking Cube at eight diverse Indigenous primary healthcare partner sites.

“The Tracking Cube will increase identification of neurodevelopmental concerns which will enable early support for children at-risk of FASD in primary healthcare,” she said.

“It will also increase the appropriateness of specialist referrals without further overburdening waitlists.”

Chief Investigators on the Tracking Cube project are Dr Erinn Hawkins, Professor Ngiare Brown,Kurt Towers,Professor Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck,Professor Robert Ware, Professor Joshua Byrnes,Dr Natasha Reid,Professor Sheena Reilly, and ProfessorDoug Shelton.

Associate Investigators are Associate Professor Marjad Page, Professor Naila Khan, Associate Professor Joan Marshall, and Jacinta Marshall.