Developing a diagnosis-specific training and treatment protocol for youth with autism spectrum disorder admitted to acute general psychiatry units
Increasing access to evidence-based care is imperative for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and significant psychiatric needs. Persons with ASD are high risk for psychiatric hospitalization compared to peers and incur increased costs, longer lengths of stay, and more readmissions. The complex needs of those with ASD make providing care difficult: general psychiatry unit staff do not have the skills to render effective care. While ASD-specialized psychiatric units exist, consensus guidelines indicate that optimal care can occur on general psychiatric units when evidenced-based practices (EBP) are used. Unfortunately, little data exists on EBP implementation in acute settings. This study’s objectives target the development of an ASD-specific training and intervention package for use on general psychiatric units. Primary aims are: 1) evaluate stakeholder perceptions on barriers in providing acute care to persons with ASD; 2) perform usability testing of an ASD-specific training and intervention package; and 3) develop measures to assess improvements after prototype package implementation. Outcomes will have a substantial impact by developing a method by which non-experts provide effective care to patients with ASD. The resulting prototype may reduce healthcare costs by limiting readmissions due to non-specific and suboptimal care. Further research cannot occur without this critical phase to develop and optimize the prototype to align with EBP and stakeholder needs.