Research Article  |   August 2019
Examining Primary Care Health Encounters for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • Leah I. Stein Duker, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor of Research, Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; lstein@chan.usc.edu
  • Hee Kyung Sadie Kim, OTD, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist. At the time of the study, she was Clinical Doctoral Resident, Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
  • Amber Pomponio, MPH, is Research Coordinator, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Laura Mosqueda, MD, is Dean, May S. and John H. Hooval Dean’s Chair in Medicine, and Professor of Family Medicine and Geriatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
  • Beth Pfeiffer, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, is Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Health and Wellness
Research Article   |   August 2019
Examining Primary Care Health Encounters for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 08 2019, Vol. 73, 7305185030p1-7305185030p11. doi:10.5014/ajot.2019.037226
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 08 2019, Vol. 73, 7305185030p1-7305185030p11. doi:10.5014/ajot.2019.037226
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Our objective was to identify perceived barriers and strategies to improve primary care encounters, as reported by adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), caregivers of adults with ASD, and primary care providers (PCPs) treating adults with ASD.

METHOD. As part of a larger mixed-methods design, adults with ASD, caregivers, and PCPs (N = 78) in Los Angeles and Philadelphia completed surveys examining barriers to care and strategies to improve care.

RESULTS. Multiple barriers to care were reported by adults with ASD and caregivers, including communication and sensory challenges. Adults with ASD and caregivers reported minimal use of strategies during primary care visits but indicated that those used were helpful during care. Expert PCPs reported using strategies more frequently than novice PCPs. All respondent groups endorsed that strategies had the potential to improve care in the future for adults with ASD.

CONCLUSION. Opportunities exist for occupational therapy collaboration in primary health care and primary care education to improve care for adults with ASD.