Utilization of health services among adults with autism spectrum disorders: Stakeholders’ experiences

Res Dev Disabil. 2021 Oct 28;119:104120. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2021.104120. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong disorder, beginning in early childhood, which often accompanies with several healthcare challenges. There is a need for consistent and continued healthcare services throughout the life of an individual with ASD. The majority of previous studies have examined healthcare services in children with ASD and there is limited evidence about healthcare needs of adults with ASD.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this project was to capture the experiences of stakeholders including adults with ASD in receiving healthcare services.

METHOD: We interviewed 22 stakeholders, including adults with ASD (n = 13), parents of adults with ASD (n = 5), and service providers (n = 4). Open-ended questions were used to explore their experiences with the healthcare system. We analysed the data thematically to develop the overarching themes.

RESULTS: Three themes emerged from interviews including a) availability and accessibility of healthcare services, b) provision of quality healthcare and service delivery, and c) striving for better health outcomes.

CONCLUSION: This study found that many adults with ASD can experience a continued lack of access to services and the care they receive is often of limited quality. The unmet healthcare needs lead stakeholders to feel stress, frustration, exhaustion, and possible burnout. The detrimental cost of limited services not only impacts adults with ASD but also their caregivers.

PMID:34736105 | DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2021.104120

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