Accuracy of Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Between Individual Healthcare Practitioners From Various Professions and a Multidisciplinary Group of Practitioners
AuthorStewart, Jessica Rae
AdvisorVigil, Debra C.
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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This study is a quantitative investigation to examine the difference in rate of diagnosis of autism in children between individual healthcare practitioners from various professions and a multidisciplinary group of practitioners. Participants included five pediatricians, five speech language pathologists, five occupational therapists, and five school psychologists who looked at videotapes of fifteen children already diagnoses by a multidisciplinary assessment team of healthcare professionals who conducted the evaluations in a transdisciplinary setting. The children were given a diagnosis of either autism, not autistic, or some other behavioral disorder. After viewing videotapes of a child, participants were asked to report if the child was on the autism spectrum or not. Subsequently, they were asked to choose three of 20 behaviors from a list that included characteristics from various other social behavioral disorders such as attention deficit disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and anxiety disorder. Results show that when compared to a multidisciplinary group of healthcare practitioners, individual healthcare practitioners have a a mean accuracy rate of 65.55%, a mean sensitivity rate of 71%, and a mean specificity rate of 63.5%, indicating that individual healthcare practitioners are less accurate when diagnosing autism. When data was analyzed statistically to determine the effect of years in practice, comfort level, use of a standardized diagnostic tol, and percentage of daily interaction had an effect on accuracy of diagnosis, it was found that accuracy increased the more contact individual healthcare practitioners had with children on the spectrum. Additionally, the sensitivity was marginally significant the more experience healthcare practitioners had with ASD. This study supports the recommendations by the National Research Council and other investigators, that a multidisciplinary team should be used in the diagnosis of autism.
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