An ASD-Specific Training Model for Medical Staff to Support Provision of ASD-Friendly Medical Care
Objectives: The objectives of the study were to: 1) describe an ASD-specific training model and potential feasibility in a hospital setting; and 2) preliminarily explore if staff’s confidence improved after ASD-specific training.
Methods: Social workers in a children’s hospital attended two one-hour trainings two weeks apart provided by ASD-focused psychologists during the social workers’ weekly rounding meetings. The first training focused on understanding ASD (n=18), and the second training focused on empirically-validated behavioral interventions (n=14). At both trainings, the social workers completed a questionnaire (6 questions on a 1-5 Likert Scale; summed for total score) developed by the authors that assessed understanding and confidence of ASD-friendly care. At the second training, two additional questions focused on utility of the training were included. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and independent sample t-test (due to the anonymous completion of the questionnaires at both trainings).
Results: Social workers found both trainings to be useful (M = 4.2 out of 5, SD = .91; M = 4.5 out of 5, SD = .51) and reported a high likelihood of using the information (M = 4.1 out of 5, SD =.99). Additionally, preliminary data from the questionnaires suggested that staff confidence in providing ASD-friendly care and implementing behavioral interventions showed non-significant improvement (training 1: M = 17.33, SD = 4.2; training 2: M = 23.5, SD = 3.99; p = .877).
Conclusions: ASD-focused training for medical staff is feasible; training can be provided during convenient times for staff by professionals with pre-existing ASD knowledge. Encouragingly, medical staff found the trainings useful, and they reported a high likelihood to implement the behavioral interventions discussed during the trainings. Preliminary data suggest that ASD-specific training might improve staff confidence, which has been identified as a barrier for medical staff in providing medical care through an ASD-friendly framework. Results of this study support training endeavors to meet the unique needs of hospitalized patients with ASD.