Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 347–358 | Cite as

A Profile on Emergency Department Utilization in Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Guodong LiuEmail author
  • Amanda M. Pearl
  • Lan Kong
  • Douglas L. Leslie
  • Michael J. Murray
Original Paper


There has been an increase in utilization of the Emergency Department (ED) in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which may reflect a deficit of services (Green et al., Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 40(3):325–332, 2001; Gurney et al., Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 160:825–830, 2006; Leichtman et al., American Journal of Orthopsyhciatry 72(2):227–235, 2001). The current study examined the rates of ED utilization between 2005 and 2013 in ASD youth 12- to 21-years-old. Adolescents with ASD accessed ED services four times as often as adolescents without ASD. Older adolescents and those living in rural areas showed a significant increase in ED visits over time. Post hoc analysis revealed increased ED utilization for females and behavioral health ED services over time. Better access to and greater understanding of services for adolescents with ASD is a critical need.


Autism Adolescence Emergency department Service utilization 



This work was supported in part by Penn State University College of Medicine Junior Faculty Development Program Award (Liu), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1 TR000127 (Kong). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. We also would like to acknowledge the essential support of the Center for Applied Studies in Health Economics (CASHE).

Author Contributions

GL contributed to the conception and design of the study, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. AMP contributed to the design of the study and interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version, LK contributed to the design of the study and analysis of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. DLL contributed to the analysis of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. MJM contributed toward the conception and design of the study, interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript, and approving the final version.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical approval

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Health Services and Behavioral Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of MedicinePennsylvania State UniversityHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, College of MedicinePennsylvania State UniversityHersheyUSA
  3. 3.The Center for Applied Studies in Health Economics, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of MedicinePennsylvania State UniversityHersheyUSA

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