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Risk Factors for Emergency Department Utilization Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This study reaffirms our previous work documenting a higher number of Emergency Department (ED) visits by adolescent females with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as compared to adolescent males with ASD, as well as significantly more ED visits by older adolescents than younger adolescents with ASD. Combined externalizing and internalizing psychiatric co-morbidities as well as internalizing conditions alone predict a higher number of ED visits in this study. Illness severity as demonstrated by patterns of visits to primary care physicians and psychiatric referrals prior to ED visits and the prescription of two or more classes of psychotropic medications also predict higher number of ED visits. Finally, as expected, previous ED visits predict future ED visits. The identification of these factors may prove helpful in determining adequacy of current supports and resources for teens with ASD navigating the challenges of adolescence.

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Funding

This study was supported by Penn State University College of Medicine Brad Hollinger Autism Research Endowment Award (GL). The authors also would like to acknowledge the essential support of the Penn State Center for Applied Studies in Health Economics (CASHE).

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

GL contributed to the conception and design of the study, data acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. AP 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. SB contributed to the design of the study and interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version. DB contributed to the analysis of data, drafting the manuscript, and approving the final version. DL contributed to the analysis of data, drafting the manuscript, and approving the final version. MM contributed to the design of the study, interpretation of data, drafting the manuscript and approving the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guodong Liu.

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Conflict of interest

All of the authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Ethical approval was granted by Penn State University College of Medicine’s Institutional Review Board. All procedures performed in this study were in accordance the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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For this type of study formal consent is not required.

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Liu, G., Pearl, A.M., Kong, L. et al. Risk Factors for Emergency Department Utilization Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 4455–4467 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04166-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04166-y

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Adolescence
  • Risk factors
  • Emergency Department
  • Service utilization