Geographic disparities in treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder
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Geographic disparities in treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder

Filetype[PDF-420.49 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Acad Pediatr
    • Description:

      Geographic differences may provide insight into what factors influence the likelihood that a child is diagnosed with ASD in the US, yet there have been few nationally representative surveys that have explored this topic. The current study expands the limited literature by analyzing regional differences in ASD prevalence, service utilization, and the presence of unmet needs within a nationally representative sample of children.


      Data were drawn from the 2014–2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a nationally representative household survey of the noninstitutionalized US population. Children 3–17 were included in the analytic sample. Prevalence estimates accounted for the complex survey design of the NHIS, and differences between geographic regions were compared using logistic/linear regressions with and without adjustment for child/family characteristics.


      The prevalence of ASD was highest in the Northeast (3.0%), followed by the Midwest (2.4%), South (2.4%), and West (2.3%). A significant difference was found between the Northeast and West (p<.05). However, after accounting for child and family characteristics, this difference was no longer significant. Children with ASD in the Northeast were the most likely to have seen a specialist in the past year. Approximately 1 in 8 children with ASD experienced at least one unmet need, but there were no differences found by geographic region.


      Although differences in prevalence were not significant after adjustment, service utilization differences remained. It appears children with ASD in the Northeast utilize the greatest number of specialty services when compared to children with ASD from other parts of the country.

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