APA's Practice Directorate, the Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society (PENS) and Pharmacia, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, have partnered to increase awareness and appropriate screening and management of growth problems in children.
The organizations have developed "Partners for Healthy Growth"--a daylong workshop to educate primary health-care providers, pediatric nurses, pediatric medical assistants, school nurses and other health-care providers. The first section of the workshop--and its accompanying resource kit--focuses on obtaining accurate growth measurements, plotting growth points, identifying growth disorders and facilitating referrals for children who need to see a specialist.
The next section covers the psychosocial aspects of growth and focuses on recognizing emotional stress in parents and children. Often forgotten in treatment, notes Geoffrey Reed, PhD, assistant executive director for professional development in APA's Practice Directorate, are the child's psychological needs. For example, many children with short stature due to growth failure have to deal with teasing, feelings of inadequacy and the fact that they may look younger than their age.
The program provides tools, such as paper-and-pencil assessments, that can help health-care providers gauge patients' emotional and behavioral functioning and know when to refer them to a psychologist. The psychological materials were developed by APA members David E. Sandberg, PhD, Clarissa S. Holmes, PhD, Stephen A. Ragusea, PsyD, Doug Johnson-Greene, PhD, and Ragusea's son, Anthony Ragusea, who was treated for a growth disorder as a child, in collaboration with the Practice Directorate.
Four pilot programs, held last year in Baltimore, Denver, Orlando and St. Louis, were "very successful," says Reed. Approximately 325 people attended the programs; evaluations showed that attendees felt the workshops provided skills to help with accurate growth measurement, and their knowledge of when to refer to psychologists and pediatric endocrinology providers had been increased.
The Practice Directorate is now working with PENS to conduct workshops in 20 cities in pediatric offices, schools and other locations.
The workshops will provide an opportunity for psychologists working with pediatric populations to develop stronger relationships with pediatric health professionals in their communities. "They'll be part of a collaborative team," says Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA executive director for professional practice. "The program increases the awareness of the benefits that psychologists can offer to children's health," he adds.
--J. DAW HOLLOWAY