Social Validity of Strategies to Assist Females with ASD during Gynecological Examinations

  • Bobbie J. GallagherEmail author
  • Susan D. Flynn
  • Robyn Catagnus
  • Annette K. Griffith


This study aimed to identify strategies that stakeholders would deem appropriate for use during a gynecological exam for a female with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who also has limited language (LL). Females with ASD are not receiving the same gynecological care as their non-ASD peers yet may have a greater need for such care due to increased health risks. Twenty-three parents and six caregivers of a female with ASD and LL, three females with ASD/Asperger’s, and two nurses responded to an online survey about possible strategies to use with a female with ASD and LL during a routine gynecological exam. With the use of an embedded video to explain the strategies, participants were asked to choose those they identify as being effective for the successful completion of a gynecological exam. The use of visual supports via an electronic device or picture prompts, reinforcement of incremental steps, and non-contingent escape were identified as the top three strategies that would support a female with ASD and LL during a gynecological exam. Participants also offered anecdotal commentary about their fears and concerns related to this issue. The patient’s voice in the decision-making process is crucial to the buy-in of the services offered by their providers. Once patient preference is known, it is imperative that researchers use that information. Identifying strategies with a higher rate of social validity, or acceptance of treatment prior to implementation, may assist future researchers in conducting studies on the effectiveness of those strategies.


Females ASD Gynecology Medical Visual supports Social validity 



This study was not funded by any agency.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. IRB approval #17-08-0034.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual particpants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

None of the authors of this manuscript have any actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations within three years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyChicagoUSA
  2. 2.BrickUSA

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