Abstract

We assessed the extent to which parents of children with autism spectrum disorder report that they are engaged in shared decision making. We measured the association between shared decision making and (a) satisfaction with care, (b) perceived guidance regarding controversial issues in autism spectrum disorder, and (c) perceived assistance navigating the multitude of treatment options. Surveys assessing primary medical care and decision-making processes were developed on the basis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. In May 2009, after pilot testing, we sent surveys to 203 parents of children from ages 3 to 18 with International Classification of Diseases–9 and parent-confirmed autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. The response rate was 64%. Controlling for key demographic variables, parents of children with autism spectrum disorder reporting higher levels of shared decision making reported significantly greater satisfaction with the overall quality of their child's health care (p ≤ .0001). Parents reporting higher levels of shared decision making were also significantly more likely to report receiving guidance on the many treatment options (p  =  .0002) and controversial issues related to autism spectrum disorder (p  =  .0322). In this study, shared decision making was associated with higher parent satisfaction and improved guidance regarding treatments and controversial issues within primary care for children with autism spectrum disorder.

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