Autism spectrum disorders screening & diagnostic practices: a survey of physicians
In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement which urged physicians to conduct surveillance at every well-child visit and screen for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at 18 and 24 months, and at any other time when parents raised a concern about a possible ASD. The purpose of this study was to identify the screening practices of pediatricians and primary care physicians (PCPs) in following the AAP guidelines specifically related to ASD in Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. A survey was mailed to 1,500 pediatricians and PCPs registered to practice in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. The survey was designed to obtain the following information: demographic information, ASD screening, diagnostic and referral practices, physician’s knowledge of AAP guidelines, and their pre-professional training. A total of 481 participants returned the surveys, rendering an overall response rate of 32%. 396 surveys were included for the analysis. The analysis of the data indicated that 66 (17%) respondents routinely screened for ASD according to AAP guidelines. An additional 162 (41%) respondents routinely screened for ASD, but did not follow AAP guidelines. It was also found that the respondents’ pre-professional education in the area of ASD correlated with their confidence levels for identifying the early warning signs of ASD and their ASD screening and diagnostic practices. The data indicated that pediatricians were more likely to screen for ASD and PCPs were more likely not to screen for ASD. Also, only 19% of physicians were aware of the current AAP guidelines for ASD screening. The data also highlighted the important role of parents and multidisciplinary team in the ASD screening and diagnostic process. These results highlighted the fact that efforts should be made to address ASD screening, diagnostic, and treatment practices in the pre-professional education of these physicians.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders