Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Health Professionals in Togo  

  • Foli Agbeko University of Lomé
  • Ounoo Elom Takassi
  • Jean Baptiste Ayao Azindje
  • Karilowô Ate
  • Damien Kouvahe
  • Mazama Pakoudjare
  • Mawouto Fiawoo
  • Kokou Nadiedjoa Douti
  • Edem Koffi Djadou
Keywords: autism, knowledge, attitudes, practice, health professionnals, Togo


Background. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in behavior, social communication, and interaction.  Objectives. To describe health staff's knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding ASD in Lomé. Methods. From January to March 2020, we conducted a multicenter, cross-sectional, descriptive, and analytical study on ASD in childhood. A survey was administered to a sample of healthcare professionals in 5 facilities in Lomé, Togo. A questionnaire assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of ASD among 139 participants (pediatricians, neurologists, general practitioners, psychologists, speech therapists, and nurses).  Results.The participation rate was 84.2 % (117 / 139). One hundred seven health workers (91.5 %) had heard of ASD. Inaccurate knowledge was observed: 65.4 % gave a good definition of autism, 73.2 % did not know the autistic triad, the early warning signs (64.6 %), or the age of onset (61.0 %). Only 22.0 % of staff were familiar with autism screening tools. The highest knowledge was significantly associated with being a speech therapist or pediatrician practicing in a tertiary health facility (p < 0,0001). Higher-graded staff also observed better knowledge levels (p = 0, 0128). Concerning attitudes or practices regarding autistic children, 26 of those surveyed (22,2 %) had already screened for ASD, of whom 23 (88,5 %) worked with other specialties in case management. Conclusion. This study highlights inappropriate knowledge, attitudes, and practices among health staff. These findings warrant the need for good initial training on ASD, awareness campaigns, and the setting up a specialized center in Togo.


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed (DSM-5) Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.

WHO. Autism spectrum disorder. http:??[Accessed 13 March 2023].

Eseigbe EE, Nuhu FT, Sheikh TL, Eseigbe P, Sanni KA, Olisah VO. Knowledge of Childhood Autism and Challenges of Management among Medical Doctors in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria. Autism Research and Treatment, 2015:892301.

Samia P, Kanana M, King J, Donald KA, Newton CR, Denckla C. Childhood autism spectrum disorder : insights from a tertiary hospital cohort in Kenya

Afr. J. Health Sci. 2020 33(2) : 12-21.

Mbassi AHD, Ngo Um S, Dongmo F, Chelo D, Ngo Manyinga Haoua P, Ntone F, Essi MJ, Koki N. Evaluation of knowledge-attitudes and practice on autism amongst health professionals in 3 paediatric hospitals in Cameroon. Health science and diseases : Vol 18 (1) 2017.

Dembele BS. Autism in Mali. Knowledge, beliefs, attitude and pratices (The case of Bamako). Thesis. Université des sciences des techniques et des technologies de Bamako. 2019.

Bakare MO, Munir KM. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Africa: a perspective, African Journal of Psychiatry, 14, no. 3, 208–210, 2011.

Bakare MO, Ebigbo PO, Agomoh AO. Knowledge about childhood autism and opinion among healthcare workers on the availability of facilities and laws caring for the needs and rights of children with childhood autism and other developmental disorders in Nigeria, BMC Pediatr. 2009, 12:9:12. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-9-12.

Bakari MO, Agomoh MO, Ebigbo PO, Etiological explanation, treatability and preventability of childhood autism: a survey of Nigerian healthcare workers’ opinion, Annals of General Psychiatry, vol. 8, article 6, 2009.

Igwe MN, Ahanotu AC, Bakare MO, Achor JU, Igwe C. Assessment of knowledge about childhood Autism among paediatric and psychiatric nurses in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2011, 9;5(1):1. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-5-1.

Newton CR, Chugani DC. The continuing role of ICNA in Africa: how to tackle autism? Dev Med Child Neurol. 2013;55(6):488-9. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12150.

Rahbar MH, Ibrahim K, Assassi P. Knowledge and attitude of general practitioners regarding autism in Karachi, Pakistan, J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Apr;41(4):465-74. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-1068-x..

Hartley-McAndrew M, Doody KR, J. Mertz J. Knowledge of autism spectrum disorders in potential first-contact professionals, North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 7, 3, 97–102, 2014. Corpus ID: 80208149.

Imran N, Chaudry MR, Azeem MW, Bhatti MR, Choudhary ZI, Cheema MA. A survey of Autism knowledge and attitudes among the healthcare professionals in Lahore, Pakistan, BMC Pediatr. 2011 22:11:107. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-11-107.

Rhoades RA, Scarpa A, Salley B. The importance of physician knowledge of autism spectrum disorder?: results of a parent survey, BMC Pediatr. 2007, 20:7:37. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-7-37.

Bakare MO, Ebigbo PO, Agomoh AO, Menkiti NC. Knowledge about childhood autism among health workers (KCAHW) questionnaire: description, reliability and internal consistency, Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2008 6:4:17. doi: 10.1186/1745-0179-4-17.

Sullivan A, Stewart M. Mothers' views on the ages of onset for Four Childhood Disorders, Child Psychiatry Hum De. 1990;20(4):269-78. doi: 10.1007/BF00706019.

De Giacomo A, Fombonne E. Parental recognition of developmental abnormalities in autism. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998;7(3):131-6. doi: 10.1007/s007870050058.

Paul NI, Gabriel-Brisibe CU, Awareness of autism amongst primary school teachers in Yenagoa city, Bayelsa State, Nigerian Journal of Paediatrics, 42, no. 1, 51–55, 2015.

Chlebowski C, Green JA, Barton ML, Fein D. Using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale to Diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders, J Autism Dev Disord. 2010; 40(7):787-99. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0926-x.

Rogé B. Le diagnostic précoce de l ’ autisme?: données actuelles. Presses Universitaires de France, « Enfance », 2002, 54:21-30.

Baghdadli A, Beuzon S, Bursztejn C, Constant J, Desguerre I, Rogé B. Recommandations pour la pratique clinique du dépistage et du diagnostic de l ’autisme et des troubles envahissants du développement [Clinical guidelines for the screening and the diagnosis of autism and pervasive developmental disorders], Arch Pediatr. 2006;13(4):373-8. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2005.12.011.

How to Cite
Agbeko, F., Takassi, O. E., Ayao Azindje, J. B., Ate, K., Kouvahe, D., Pakoudjare, M., Fiawoo, M., Nadiedjoa Douti, K., & Djadou, E. K. (2024). Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Health Professionals in Togo  . International Journal of Integrative Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, 9, 1 - 7.