Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 590–598 | Cite as

A Rural–Urban Comparison in Emergency Department Visits for U.S. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Wanqing Zhang
  • Ashley E. Mason
  • Brian Boyd
  • Linmarie Sikich
  • Grace Baranek
Original Paper


We examined rural–urban differences in emergency department visits, and child and clinical characteristics associated with visits for U.S. children aged 3–17 years with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Rural children with ASD were twice more likely to have emergency department visits in urban hospitals than rural children without ASD. The children with ASD in rural areas were economically disadvantaged and concentrated in the South and Midwest regions. Rural children diagnosed with ASD and multiple comorbidities during emergency department visits were 1.6 times as that of urban children. Rural children with ASD, particularly those with multiple comorbidities, require more emergency department services when compared with urban children with ASD.


Emergency department visits Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Rural–urban differences Utilization of health services 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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