Paediatric vision screening by non-healthcare volunteers: evidence based practices
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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to test the sensitivity and specificity of eight undergraduate volunteer examiners conducting vision screening tests in a community setting, in order to determine if non-eye care professionals were able to be trained to an appropriate level of skill. METHODS: Eight undergraduate volunteer examiners were trained to conduct vision screening tests to address a gap in pediatric community eye care. Phase I of the study was implemented in the pediatric ophthalmology clinic, and phase II was conducted in nine local schools. Phase I consisted of 40 h of training for each volunteer regarding specific vision tests. Phase II consisted of screening children at nine local schools. RESULTS: A total of 690 children from nine local schools were screened by both the volunteer examiners and the optometrist during the course of this study. Volunteer examiners had a screening sensitivity of 0.80 (95%CI 0.66-0.90) and screening specificity of 0.75 (95%CI 0.71-0.78) when compared to the study optometrist. The overall accuracy of volunteer examiners was 75%. The resulting positive likelihood ratio was 3.24 (95%CI 2.6-3.9), indicating that a child with vision impairment was 3.2 times more likely to fail the vision test performed by the volunteer examiners compared to a child with no vision impairment. CONCLUSIONS: Non-healthcare professionals can be trained to an acceptable degree of accuracy to perform vision screening tests on children, which may assist in mitigating existing gaps in paediatric eye care.
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