International Meeting for Autism Research: Brazilian Scientific Production about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Brazilian Scientific Production about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
2:00 PM
C. de Paula1 and M. C. Teixeira2, (1)Mackenzie Presbyterian University, S?o Paulo, Brazil, (2)São Paulo
Background : In the last decades there was a substantial investment in research focused on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and these data have contributed to the knowledge of the disorder, to raise awareness and to develop public policy. However, the vast majority of population-based data on ASD were obtained in developed countries. This limited knowledge of the reality of autism in developing nations is a further challenge that must be faced by stakeholders, including health, education, and other government officials. 

Objectives: The objectives of this review were: a) to identify all ASD-themed articles, master’s theses, and doctoral dissertations authored by Brazilian researchers between 2002 and 2009; b) to classify articles and thesis/dissertation abstracts into a broad category scheme according to research subject; c) to find out the impact factors of the journals in which these articles were published, and the bibliographic databases in which these journals were indexed; and d) to compile data on the institutional affiliation of the lead authors of articles, theses, and dissertations.

Methods: The bibliographic search was conducted in the following scientific databases: PUBMED, SciELO, LILACS and portal CAPES (Brazilian thesis database), including several key words, such as autism and pervasive developmental disorders. Journals indexed by more than one database were ranked in order of quality criteria (hence, PubMed first, followed by SciELO, then LILACS). Articles were also classified by impact factor of the journal in which they were published, as reported in the 2008 Journal Citation Report (JCR). Dissertation and thesis abstracts were obtained from the CAPES website ( avaliacao/cadastro-de-discentes/teses-e-dissertacoes), which does not list any quality criteria.

Results:  A total of 93 papers were identified mainly produced by authors from the Southeast Brazil and from public universities. All articles and theses and dissertations were classified into one of the following seven research categories: (a) intervention studies (most frequent), (b) Communication patterns and family relations, (c) Neurobiological and genetic bases of ASD and comorbidities in the autism spectrum, (d) Phenotype and endophenotype studies, (e) Psychometric properties of ASD assessment instruments, (f) Diagnostic criteria for ASD and (g) Epidemiological studies (less frequent).

Approximately one third of papers were published in journals with some level of impact factor that varied between 0.441 and 3.211; most of them were based on small samples sizes. There were identified 140 dissertations/theses; 82.1% were master thesis. The major research topic was related to intervention programs addressing ASD.

Conclusions:  This review shows that Brazilian researchers are interested in the ASD theme, however, a big piece of this scientific production is concentrated in dissertation/master thesis and the minority of papers was published in journals with high impact factor. The results of this systematic review suggest the need for studies with larger sample sizes which would produce better impact and visibility in the Brazilian scientific production in the field of the ASD.

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