ECHO Autism: A New Model for Training Primary Care Providers in Best-Practice Care for Children With Autism

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Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have complex medical problems, yet they are at high risk for unmet health care needs. Primary care providers are perfectly positioned to meet these needs; however, they often lack training in ASD. This pilot project developed and tested a new model for training primary care providers in best-practice care for ASD using the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) framework. The 6-month ECHO Autism pilot project consisted of 12 biweekly clinics focused on screening and identification of ASD symptoms and management of medical and psychiatric comorbidities. Participants completed measures of practice behavior and self-efficacy in screening and management of children with ASD at baseline (pretest) and after 6 months of ECHO Autism (posttest). Statistically significant improvements were observed in self-efficacy, in adherence to ASD screening guidelines, and in use of ASD-specific resources. Participants also reported high satisfaction with the program.

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