Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders in Queensland: Variations in practice

Skellern, C., McDowell, M. and Schluter, P. J. (2005) Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders in Queensland: Variations in practice. Journal of Paediatrics And Child Health, 41 8: 413-418. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1754.2005.00667.x

Author Skellern, C.
McDowell, M.
Schluter, P. J.
Title Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders in Queensland: Variations in practice
Journal name Journal of Paediatrics And Child Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1034-4810
Publication date 2005-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2005.00667.x
Volume 41
Issue 8
Start page 413
End page 418
Total pages 6
Editor F. Oberklaid
Place of publication Australia
Publisher Blackwell Publishing Asia
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject C1
321019 Paediatrics
730204 Child health
Abstract Objective: For both paediatricians and child psychiatrists, referrals to assess possible autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are increasing. This study examines current practices of medical specialists in the assessment of these disorders. Methods: An anonymous, self-report questionnaire was sent to all Queensland paediatricians and child psychiatrists. The survey elicited frequencies of consultation for ASD, diagnostic method, advice provided and perceived adequacy of training for this work. Results: Responses were received from 79 (85%) eligible paediatricians and 26 (58%) eligible child psychiatrists. For one-third of all clinicians, new consultations for possible ASD occurred as often as 2-3 times per week. Most specialists approached the clinical diagnosis of ASD by considering history from different sources and professional assessments. Paediatricians (86%) were more likely than child psychiatrists (62%) to request genetic studies for children with severe autism (P = 0.01). Both general paediatricians and developmental paediatricians perceived level of training for possible ASD consultations was significantly worse than child psychiatrists (P < 0.001 and P = 0.02, respectively), but no difference was found between paediatric groups (P = 0.27). Perceived adequacy of specialist training was not associated with length of experience in clinical practice. Conclusion: Medical practice in Queensland around diagnosis of ASD is characterized by considerable variability. There is still a long way to go if we are to achieve consistency around medical issues of organic diagnosis and practices impacting on health as well as consideration of differential developmental diagnoses. The finding that recently trained paediatricians felt just as unprepared for this work as their older colleagues suggests that the graduate training response to this 'new morbidity' has not been adequate.
Keyword Pediatrics
Child Development Disorders
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 06:01:29 EST