Research Horizons


Quality Improvement Network Boosts Training in Developmental Disabilities

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics | Top Scientific Achievement
2023 Research Discoveries Bar charts show percent change in scores for trainees from Time 1 to Time 3 and for faculty from Time 2 to Time 3 by each competency domain (IDTB, FPP, and policy).

Children with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often require complex and multidisciplinary care. Yet the supply of highly qualified care providers is limited.

To address this need, federally funded Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) programs have been established across the United States, including one at Cincinnati Children’s. These programs provide comprehensive and interdisciplinary training to pediatric professionals from various disciplines involved in the diagnosis, treatment and support of children with ASD and developmental disabilities.

Since 2016, a quality improvement network has measured variations among 22 participating programs to identify best practices in building knowledge and skills. A review based on five years of data was led by first authors Jennifer Smith, PsyD, BCBA-D, and Nichole Nidey, PhD, both with the LEND program at Cincinnati Children’s Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

How do LEND Programs address this need?

The study shows significant improvements in trainees’ knowledge, skills and attitudes in three key competency do- mains: Interdisciplinary or Interprofessional Team Building, Family-Professional Partnerships, and Policy. Both self-report and faculty observation scores showed positive changes.

“These findings highlight the value of LEND programs and showcase the feasibility of a national quality improvement approach to evaluate interdisciplinary training and systems-level enhancements in the care of children with ASD and developmental disabilities,” Nidey says.

The study’s senior author was Jeffrey Brosco, MD, PhD, of the University of Miami in Florida. Co-authors included experts from the Maryland-based Association of University Centers on Disabilities, University of Wisconsin- Madison, Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Indiana University School of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, The Ohio State University, and the University of Tennessee.

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Publication Information
Original title: A Quality Improvement Network for Interdisciplinary Training in Developmental Disabilities
Published in: Pediatrics
Publish date: Dec. 1, 2022
Read the study

Research By

Jennifer D. Smith, PsyD, BCBA-D
Jennifer D. Smith, PsyD, BCBA-D
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Nichole Nidey, PhD
Nichole Nidey, PhD
Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology