General practice encounters for young patients with autism spectrum disorder

Published July 2017

Abstract

This study compared the patient demographics and reasons for encounter in general practice for patients less than 25 years with and without an autism spectrum disorder identified as a reason for encounter and/or problem managed. The Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health programme collected information about clinical activities in Australian general practice. Each year, the programme recruited a random sample of 1000 general practitioners, each of whom collected data for 100 consecutive consultations (encounters). Encounters with patients <25 years, where at least one autism spectrum disorder was recorded as a reason for encounter and/or a problem managed (n = 579), were compared with all other encounters (n = 281,473) from April 2000 to March 2014 inclusive. Data were age–sex standardised. Patients at autism spectrum disorder encounters (compared to non-autism spectrum disorder encounters) were more likely to be younger and male. There was a dramatic rise in the number of general practitioner consultations at autism spectrum disorder encounters from 2000 to 2013. More reasons for encounter were recorded at autism spectrum disorder encounters than at non-autism spectrum disorder encounters (156.4 (95% confidence interval: 144.0–168.8) and 140.5 (95% confidence interval: 140.0–141.0), respectively). At autism spectrum disorder (vs non-autism spectrum disorder) encounters, there were more psychological, general and unspecified, and social reasons for encounter and fewer preventive and acute health reasons for encounter. People with an autism spectrum disorder have complex health care needs that require a skilled general practice workforce.
Citation
Foley, K-R., Pollack, A., Britt, H., Lennox, N. & Trollor., J. (2018). General practice encounters for young patients with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 22(7), 784-793. doi: 10.1177/1362361317702560

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