Physicians' knowledge and attitudes regarding periconceptional folic acid supplementation: a survey in Southern Israel
Talab Abu-Hammad, Jacob Dreiher, Daniel A. Vardy, Arnon D. Cohen
Med Sci Monit 2008; 14(5): CR262-267
Available online: 2008-04-29
Pre-conceptional folic acid supplementation is an effective way to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs). Primary care providers are an important source of information to promote folic acid intake. This study aimed at evaluating primary care physicians' knowledge and attitudes regarding folic acid supplementation for childbearing women.
Material and Method: A questionnaire on physicians' knowledge and attitudes, mostly including multiple-choice questions, was delivered by mail to all physicians (n=370) in a large health provider organization in southern Israel in 2006. Data regarding demographics as well as type of specialty, experience, and place of work were collected.
Results: Eighty-seven physicians were included in the study (response rate: 24%). Seventy physicians out of 81 (94%) reported routine recommendation of folic acid for their patients. Most physicians admitted that they needed more information regarding folic acid supplementation. Knowledge about folic acid's role in preventing congenital anomalies was suboptimal, with 2% of the physicians correctly estimating the efficacy of folic acid in decreasing the risk of NTDs and 8% recognizing the association between folic acid supplementation and decreased prevalence of malformations other than NTDs. Knowledge about the correct timing (12%) and dosage (47%) of folic acid preparations for average-risk women was also lacking.
Conclusions: Primary care physicians report that they routinely prescribe folic acid to women in childbearing age in order to prevent congenital anomalies, but their knowledge about folic acid supplementation is insufficient.
Keywords: Questionnaires, Preconception Care, Pregnancy, Physicians, Family, Neural Tube Defects - prevention & control, Israel, Folic Acid - therapeutic use, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Dietary Supplements, Congenital Abnormalities - prevention & control, Adult