(HealthDay News) – Adults with autism report significantly worse health care experiences than adults without autism, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to adapt a survey for adults with autism. The online cross-sectional survey was completed by 209 adults with autism whose health care experiences were compared with those of 228 adults without autism.

After adjustment for demographics, health insurance, and overall health status, the researchers found that adults with autism had significantly lower satisfaction with patient-provider communication and general health care and chronic condition self-efficacy. Furthermore, adults with autism were significantly more likely to report unmet health care needs related to physical health (odds ratio [OR], 1.9), mental health (OR, 2.2), and prescription medications (OR, 2.8), and to utilize the emergency department (OR, 2.1). In addition, they were significantly less likely to receive preventive care such as tetanus vaccination (OR, 0.5) and Papanicolaou smears (OR, 0.5).

“A CBPR approach may facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in research by increasing researchers’ ability to create accessible data collection instruments,” the authors write. “Efforts are needed to improve the health care of autistic individuals, including individuals who may be potentially perceived as having fewer disability-related needs.”

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