Using simulator dolls to enhance understanding of teratogenic affects on antenatal development
Alcohol consumption and drug abuse during pregnancy can have numerous adverse health consequences for the developing foetus, including foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and teratogenic effects, increased morbidity and mortality and a high incidence of birth defects that can have long-term consequences. Therefore, it is important to assess ways of increasing knowledge and understanding of these effects. There is limited research assessing the use of the Foetal Alcohol and Drug Affected virtual-baby dolls in education programmes to highlight the detrimental effects. However, using simulators as health promotion and sociotechnical change is increasing due to the growing reality that smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use in women of reproductive age is increasing and the continued use of drugs during pregnancy is common (Whittaker, 2003).
The current research aimed to build upon previous research by Dr Hussain and Dr Pourzanjani to assess the use of simulator dolls to educate students about the teratogenic effects of drugs and alcohol on prenatal development. The current study compared four groups of students: college students (Year 12 and 13) and undergraduates from Psychology, Midwifery and Social work. A mixed-methods approach firstly compared knowledge prior to the teaching session with knowledge afterwards. Qualitative data was then sought to determine the students' perceptions of how the simulator dolls had aided their understanding in order to provide more depth to the quantitative findings. It was predicted that interaction with the simulator dolls and higher-order creative thinking about their use to educate others, as well as how this might be beneficial within their discipline area, would help students develop their metacognitive understanding of the potential risks to the foetus and to enhance their professional practice.