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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1902-1907

Perception and convenience of caring for children with autism spectrum disorder among family medicine residents in Riyadh 2018

1 Department of Family Medicine, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Data and Information Management and Analysis, United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees, Amman, Jordan

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Maha S Alshammari
Department of Family Medicine, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, P.O. Box 7897, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_328_19

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Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of childhood pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders characterized predominantly by persistent moderate to severe impairment in social skills, communication, and associated with restricted repetitive or stereotyped behaviors. Early diagnosis of this disorder is paramount, which then allows for a timely intervention to facilitate a positive prognosis. To the best of our knowledge, there is no study that has investigated the perception of ASD among family medicine residents in Saudi Arabia. Objective: To determine the level of awareness of childhood autism among family medicine residents in Riyadh. Settings and Design: A cross-sectional study was conducted in nine teaching primary healthcare centers in Riyadh. Materials and Methods: The questionnaire was adopted from Unigwe et al. study and distributed to 344 available physicians, of which 277 were received back completed. Results: Only 28 physicians (10.1%) answered positively if they had previously attended any ASD workshops or conferences. In addition, only 29 participants (10.5%) correctly answered 50% or more questions. The question that yielded the lowest scoring was “Recognizing the signs and symptoms of autism in individuals with good language and no apparent intellectual difficulties”, while the question with the highest scoring was “Identifying stress in the parents and carers of my patients with autism.” The regression analysis showed no association between the scores and the physicians' characteristics. Conclusions: The results show a low awareness level and moderate to low level of confidence in the physicians ability to recognize, identify, or communicate in regards to ASD. We recommend integrating lectures and clinical exposure of ASD to the residency training program curriculum.

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