Research Summaries: Health care service use among youth and adults with ASD

Research Summaries: Health care service use among youth and adults with ASD

by Ami Tint

The seven research summaries below are related to health care service use among teens and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD):


1) Factors related to taking many psychotropic medication in individuals with autism

What you need to know:

Individuals with ASD and a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis, a history of hurting others, using therapy services, and with parents with high caregiver burden may be at increased risk for psychotropic polypharmacy. It is important to support families of children with ASD prescribed multiple psychiatric medications.

Citation:

Lake, J. K., Weiss, J. A., Dergal, J., & Lunsky, Y. (2014). Child, parent, and service predictors of psychotropic polypharmacy among adolescents and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology, 24(9), 486-493.

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2) What is related to emergency department visits for individuals with autism?

What you need to know:

Many adolescents and adults with ASD visit the emergency department (ED). The strongest predictors of ED visits in this study were having gone to the ED in the past year, elevated family distress, and experiencing two or more negative life events just before the study started.

Integrated crisis planning, caregiver supports, and community-based mental health services may help prevent ED visits.

Citation:

Lunsky, Y., Weiss, J. A., Paquette-Smith, M., Durbin, A., Tint, A., Palucka, A. M., & Bradley, E. (2017). Predictors of emergency department use by adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder: A prospective cohort study. BMJ Open, 7(7), e017377.

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3) A high number of significant life events for adults with autism

What you need to know:

Adults with AS frequently experience significant life events, particularly regarding unemployment and financial problems. It is important to ensure that they receive appropriate supports, as these changes can be distressing.

Citation:

Milovanov, A., Paquette-Smith, M., Lunsky, Y., & Weiss, J. A. (2013). Prevalence and impact of significant life events for adults with Asperger syndrome. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 19(2), 50-54.

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4) Correlates of police involvement with individuals with autism

What you need to know:

Individuals with ASD that have been involved with police are more likely to be older, have a history of aggression, live outside the family home, and have parents with high caregiver strain and financial difficulty.

Most parents are satisfied with their children’s police interactions; however, future research is needed to ensure safe and successful interactions for everyone involved.

Citation:

Tint, A., Palucka, A. M., Bradley, E., Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2017). Correlates of Police Involvement Among Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47:2639–2647.

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5) Different rate of emergency service use in girls and women with autism compared to boys and men

What you need to know:

A significantly greater proportion of girls and women with ASD use psychiatry and emergency department services as compared to boys and men with ASD even though overall clinical needs and service patterns are similar. More research is needed to ensure girls and women are receiving appropriate care.

Citation:

Tint, A., Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (Online First). Identifying the clinical needs and patterns of health service use of adolescent girls and women with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research.

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6) Healthcare use for adults with autism without intellectual disability

What you need to know:

Adults with ASD without ID often face challenges accessing appropriate, quality services to meet their needs, particularly those with complex medical and mental health issues.

It is important to find ways to improve health care for this population who may become distressed if their needs are left unmet.

Citation:

Vogan, V., Lake, J. K., Tint, A., Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2017). Tracking health care service use and the experiences of adults with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability: A longitudinal study of service rates, barriers and satisfaction. Disability and Health Journal, 10(2), 264-270.

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7) Parent’s own perception of providing care and access to services for their child with autism

What you need to know: 

Lower parent self-efficacy is related to having an older child, being an immigrant, experiencing more barriers to service access, and caregiver burden. It is important to take these factors into account to ensure all parents are able to successfully access supports for their children with ASD.

Citation:

Weiss, J. A., Tint, A., Paquette-Smith, M., & Lunsky, Y. (2016). Perceived self-efficacy in parents of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 20(4), 425-434.

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This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP a102677). Dr. Weiss is supported by the Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research (Canadian Institutes of Health Research RN162466-284208 in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, Health Canada, Kids Brain Health Network (formerly NeuroDevNet) and the Sinneave Family Foundation. These research summaries, along with other summaries, can be found on our blog and at asdmentalhealth.ca/research-summaries

About the Chair

The Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research is dedicated to studying ways to improve the mental health and well-being of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families in Canada.

For more information, visit the Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at asdmentalhealth.ca