Measuring and understanding public awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alberta, Canada

Bulut, O., Kennedy, K. Measuring and understanding public awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alberta, Canada. J Public Health (Berl.) (2021).



Efforts to increase public awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) sometimes fail to translate into direct changes in attitudes or behaviors regarding FASD. Therefore, it is essential to measure the level of FASD awareness before designing effective FASD prevention campaigns.

Subject and methods

The 2017 What Albertans Know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Survey (shortly FASD Survey) was a provincial effort to measure FASD awareness in Alberta, Canada. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of the survey in measuring FASD-related constructs. The sample consisted of 1205 adults who were 18 years of age or older and lived in Alberta, Canada. All participants were sampled using stratified sampling and then contacted by phone. The sampling frames of telephone numbers included both land lines and cell phones. First, the questions in the survey were examined based on descriptive statistics, question-level statistics, and scale-level statistics. Then, the Item Response Theory framework was used for analyzing the FASD Survey.


The average nonresponse rates were less than 1%, except for a few questions that had up to 5% missing data. The participants responded to most questions in the FASD Survey very similarly, regardless of their gender. Based on point-biserial correlations, the questions indicated sufficient power to distinguish between the participants with different levels of the FASD constructs. Three subscales from the survey (Support and Prevention, Beliefs about FASD, and General Knowledge of FASD) indicated adequate internal consistency and question quality. However, the subscale of General Knowledge of FASD did not seem accurate enough in measuring higher levels of its construct. Some questions on the FASD Survey appeared to function differently across female and male participants.


The FASD Survey is a promising instrument to evaluate public awareness of FASD but it needs further improvement to make valid conclusions about FASD awareness.

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