Article Text

other Versions

Can Western developmental screening tools be modified for use in a rural Malawian setting?
  1. Melissa Gladstone (mgladstone{at}
  1. College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi, Malawi
    1. Gillian Lancaster ({at}
    1. Centre for Medical Statistics and Health Evaluation, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
      1. Ashley Jones (apjones{at}
      1. Centre for Medical Statistics and Health Evaluation, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
        1. Ken Maleta (kmaleta{at}
        1. Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi., Malawi
          1. Edward Mtitimila (mtitimila{at}
          1. Institute of Child Health, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
            1. Per Ashorn (per.ashorn{at}
            1. Department of International Health, University of Tampere Medical School., Finland
              1. Rosalind Smyth (r.l.smyth{at}
              1. Institute of Child and Reproductive Health, University of Liverpool., United Kingdom


                Objective: To create a more culturally relevant developmental assessment tool for use on children in rural Africa.

                Design: Through focus groups, piloting work and validation, a more culturally appropriate developmental tool, based on the style of the Denver II, was created. Age standardized norms were estimated using 1130 normal children of 0-6 years from a rural setting in Malawi. The performance of each item in the tool was examined through goodness of fit on logistic regression, reliability and interpretability at consensus meeting. The instrument was revised with removal of items performing poorly.

                Results: An assessment tool with 138 items was created. Face, content and respondent validity was demonstrated. At consensus meeting 97% (33/34) of gross motor items were retained in comparison to 51% (18/35) of social items. 86% (69/80) of items from the Denver II or DDST were retained in comparison to 69% (32/46) of the newly created items, many of these having poor reliability and goodness of fit. Gender had an effect on 23% (8/35) of the social items, which were removed. Items not attained by 6 years came entirely from the Denver II fine motor section (4/34). Overall, 110 of the 138 items (80%) were retained in the revised instrument with some items needing further modification.

                Conclusions: When creating developmental tools for a rural African setting, many items from Western tools can be adapted. The “gross motor” domain is more culturally adaptable, whereas social development is difficult to adapt and is culturally specific.

                • African children
                • Denver II
                • cross cultural
                • developmental screening
                • focus groups

                Statistics from

                Request Permissions

                If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

                Supplementary materials