Psychiatry training in autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability: Ongoing gaps and emerging opportunities

Natasha Marrus, Kathleen A. Koth, Jessica A. Hellings, Rachel McDonald, McLeod Frampton Gwynette, Rebecca Muhle, William D. Lohr, Roma A. Vasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability are associated with psychiatric comorbidities, yet a 2009 study of US child and adolescent psychiatry program directors indicated that psychiatry residents receive insufficient training in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability. This follow-up study surveyed child and adolescent psychiatry and general psychiatry program directors to assess (1) the current extent of residency training in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability, (2) program director perceptions of educational topics and resident competency in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability, and (3) preferred resources to strengthen autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability training. As in 2009, many child and adolescent psychiatry program directors reported few lecture hours, although current child and adolescent psychiatry residents saw slightly more patients with autism spectrum disorder but not intellectual disability. General psychiatry program directors reported fewer lecture hours in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability and fewer patients with autism spectrum disorder than child and adolescent psychiatry program directors. Both child and adolescent psychiatry and general psychiatry program directors recognized the importance of a range of educational topics in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability. Child and adolescent psychiatry program directors reported higher resident competency, and lecture hours and patients seen moderately correlated with resident competency. Program directors indicated that online videos and other resources would help improve autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability training in their programs. Collectively, these findings suggest minimal improvements in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability training over the past decade and highlight the urgent need to advance psychiatry training in this field through dissemination of resources. Lay abstract: Children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability experience high rates of co-occurring psychiatric conditions throughout their lifetime. However, there is a shortage of psychiatrists to treat these populations. We evaluated how much education psychiatrists-in-training receive on how to care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability. We found that in many psychiatry programs, residents receive limited training experiences in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability involving lectures and patient contact and that psychiatry program directors would benefit from more resources to strengthen education in autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-689
Number of pages11
JournalAutism
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • education
  • intellectual disability
  • psychiatry
  • residency training

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