Although early diagnosis of autism is critical for promoting access to early intervention, many children experience significant diagnostic delays. Shortages of healthcare providers, limited capacity at autism centers, and geographic and socioeconomic challenges contribute to these delays. The current pilot study examined the feasibility of a new model for training community-based primary care providers (PCPs) in underserved areas in screening and diagnosis of young children at highest risk for autism. By combining hands-on training in standardized techniques with ongoing virtual mentorship and practice, the program emphasized both timely diagnosis and appropriate referral for more comprehensive assessment when necessary. Results indicated improvements in PCP practice and self-efficacy, and feasibility of the model for enhancing local access to care.
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We gratefully acknowledge all the health care providers who participated in the ECHO Autism STAT Program and thank them for their ongoing efforts to provide the best possible care for children with autism. Finally, we would like to thank the ECHO Institute Team at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and the Missouri Telehealth Network for their ongoing assistance.
This project was funded by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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. The study was approved as a Quality Improvement project by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Missouri. For this type of study, formal consent was not required.
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Mazurek, M.O., Curran, A., Burnette, C. et al. ECHO Autism STAT: Accelerating Early Access to Autism Diagnosis. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 127–137 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3696-5
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Primary care provider
- Health care access