Psychiatric Training Gaps Continue for Treating Autism and Intellectual Disability

August 22, 2022

Residents Continue to Receive Limited Training Experience in ASD, Even as Rates Surge

Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID) have higher rates of co-occurring psychiatric conditions and symptoms than the general population. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, suicidal ideation, and aggression are just a few common psychiatric conditions among those with ASD and ID. In 2009, a study of U.S. child and adolescent psychiatry (CAP) program directors (PD) found that psychiatry residents receive insufficient training in ASD and ID. Recently, a follow-up study surveyed many of the same ASD and ID experiences that CAP and general psychiatry (GEN) PDs are currently experiencing. This second study assessed the extent of residency training in ASD and ID, examined PD’s perceptions of educational topics and resident competency in ASD and ID, and reported preferred resources to strengthen ASD and ID training. Sadly, like in 2009, the present study identified that many CAP PDs reported few ASD and ID lecture hours, even though residents now see more patients with ASD. However, these residents did not see the same increase in patients with ID alone. Meanwhile, GEN PDs reported fewer ASD and ID lecture hours and fewer patients with ASD than CAP PDs. CAP PDs reported a higher rate of resident competency due to more ASD/ID lecture hours and exposure to patients with these conditions compared to GEN PDs. The study also reported that both CAP PDs and GEN PDs recognized the importance of a range of educational topics in ASD/ID. They indicated that online videos and other resources would help improve ASD/ID training for the residents in their programs. In the end, the study highlighted that there had been minimal improvements in ASD/ID training over the past decade. The authors believe their work highlights the urgent need to advance ASD/ID psychiatric training. They feel this should occur through as many modalities and resources as possible. 

Original Article

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