Disparities in Service Use Among Children With Autism: A Systematic Review, (2020), Smith KA., Gehricke JG., Iadarola S., Wolfe A., Kuhlthau KA.

( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32238530/ )



Research reveals racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in autism diagnosis; there is limited information on potential disparities related to other dimensions of services.


We reviewed evidence related to disparities in service use, intervention effectiveness, and quality of care provided to children with autism by race, ethnicity, and/or socioeconomic status.


Medline, PsychInfo, Educational Resources Informational Clearinghouse, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched by using a combination of Medical Subject Headings terms and keywords related to autism, disparities, treatment, and services.


Included studies addressed at least one key question and met eligibility criteria.


Two authors reviewed the titles and abstracts of articles and reviewed the full text of potentially relevant articles. Authors extracted information from articles that were deemed appropriate.


Treatment disparities exist for access to care, referral frequency, number of service hours, and proportion of unmet service needs. Evidence revealed that racial and ethnic minority groups and children from low-income families have less access to acute care, specialized services, educational services, and community services compared with higher-income and white families. We found no studies in which differences in intervention effectiveness were examined. Several studies revealed disparities such that African American and Hispanic families and those from low-income households reported lower quality of care.


The body of literature on this topic is small; hence it served as a limitation to this review.


The documented disparities in access and quality of care may further identify groups in need of outreach, care coordination, and/or other interventions.

Citations: Smith KA., Gehricke JG., Iadarola S., Wolfe A., Kuhlthau KA., (2020).

Disparities in Service Use Among Children With Autism: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics, 145(Suppl 1):S35-S46. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1895G. 


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