Use of a Computerized Decision Aid for Developmental Surveillance and Screening: A Randomized Clinical Trial | Child Development | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
September 2014

Use of a Computerized Decision Aid for Developmental Surveillance and Screening: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1Children’s Health Services Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
  • 2The Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 3Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine and Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indianapolis
JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(9):815-821. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.464

Importance  Developmental delays and disabilities are common in children. Research has indicated that intervention during the early years of a child's life has a positive effect on cognitive development, social skills and behavior, and subsequent school performance.

Objective  To determine whether a computerized clinical decision support system is an effective approach to improve standardized developmental surveillance and screening (DSS) within primary care practices.

Design, Setting, and Participants  In this cluster randomized clinical trial performed in 4 pediatric clinics from June 1, 2010, through December 31, 2012, children younger than 66 months seen for primary care were studied.

Interventions  We compared surveillance and screening practices after adding a DSS module to an existing computer decision support system.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The rates at which children were screened for developmental delay.

Results  Medical records were reviewed for 360 children (180 each in the intervention and control groups) to compare rates of developmental screening at the 9-, 18-, or 30-month well-child care visits. The DSS module led to a significant increase in the percentage of patients screened with a standardized screening tool (85.0% vs 24.4%, P < .001). An additional 120 records (60 each in the intervention and control groups) were reviewed to examine surveillance rates at visits outside the screening windows. The DSS module led to a significant increase in the percentage of patients whose parents were assessed for concerns about their child's development (71.7% vs 41.7%, P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance  Using a computerized clinical decision support system to automate the screening of children for developmental delay significantly increased the numbers of children screened at 9, 18, and 30 months of age. It also significantly improved surveillance at other visits. Moreover, it increased the number of children who ultimately were diagnosed as having developmental delay and who were referred for timely services at an earlier age.

Trial Registration Identifier: NCT01351077