Presentation Title

Pediatric Primary Care Provider Survey: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Mental Health Disorders

Abstract

The majority of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with co-occurring disorders, including anxiety and depression. Increasing numbers of patients are receiving psychiatric treatment from their primary care physicians, instead of mental health specialists. The purpose of this descriptive study was to understand pediatric primary care providers’ attitudes, knowledge of, and approaches towards managing ASD and accompanying mental health disorders. A 21-question survey was administered to 28 pediatrician offices in Massachusetts and Vermont and advertised on online message boards. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and open-ended comments were analyzed using thematic analysis. Twenty-two providers participated. Ninety-one percent of participants agreed that if ASD training was offered through their practice they would attend, and 77% of participants found it difficult to care for patients with ASD and a comorbid mental health disorder. When asked to compare the symptoms of anxiety and depression to characteristics of ASD, on average, the providers correctly assigned 87.5% of symptoms to the associated disorder. Education could benefit providers to help differentiate between more ambiguous symptoms of ASD versus anxiety and depression. Overall, pediatric primary care providers are willing and eager to learn more about resources and the correlation between ASD and mental health disorders.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura Lewis

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Program/Major

Health Sciences

Primary Research Category

Health Sciences

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Pediatric Primary Care Provider Survey: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Mental Health Disorders

The majority of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with co-occurring disorders, including anxiety and depression. Increasing numbers of patients are receiving psychiatric treatment from their primary care physicians, instead of mental health specialists. The purpose of this descriptive study was to understand pediatric primary care providers’ attitudes, knowledge of, and approaches towards managing ASD and accompanying mental health disorders. A 21-question survey was administered to 28 pediatrician offices in Massachusetts and Vermont and advertised on online message boards. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and open-ended comments were analyzed using thematic analysis. Twenty-two providers participated. Ninety-one percent of participants agreed that if ASD training was offered through their practice they would attend, and 77% of participants found it difficult to care for patients with ASD and a comorbid mental health disorder. When asked to compare the symptoms of anxiety and depression to characteristics of ASD, on average, the providers correctly assigned 87.5% of symptoms to the associated disorder. Education could benefit providers to help differentiate between more ambiguous symptoms of ASD versus anxiety and depression. Overall, pediatric primary care providers are willing and eager to learn more about resources and the correlation between ASD and mental health disorders.