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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire to teach medical students developmental assessment: a descriptive analysis

Pam Nicol

Author Affiliations

School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Princess Margaret Hospital, GPO Box D184, Perth 6840, Australia

BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:29  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-29

Published: 22 May 2006



After a survey of medical graduates' skills found a lack of confidence in developmental assessment, a program was introduced with the broad aims of increasing medical student confidence and respect for the parents' role in childhood developmental assessment. Research has shown that parents' concerns are as accurate as quality screening tests in assessing development, so the program utilised the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, a parent completed, child development assessment tool.


To evaluate the program, an interpretative analysis was completed on the students' reports written during the program and a questionnaire was administered to the parents to gain their perception of the experience. As well, student confidence levels in assessing growth and development were measured at the end of the paediatric term.


Although there was an increase in student confidence in developmental assessment at the end of the term, it was not statistically significant. However the findings indicated that students gained increased understanding of the process and enhanced recognition of the parental role, and the study suggested there was increased confidence in some students. Parents indicated that they thought they should be involved in the teaching of students.


The ASQ was shown to have been useful in an education program at the level of advanced beginners in developmental assessment.