Examining clinicians’ concerns delivering telemental health interventions directly to autistic individuals during COVID-19

Lucy Adams*, Nicoletta Adamo, Matthew Hollocks, Lucia Valmaggia, Aylana Brewster, Jennifer Watson, Maisie Krisson, Emily Simonoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the adoption of telemental health (TMH). Pre-pandemic, clinicians had voiced many TMH concerns, but these had not been investigated with respect to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even with it being known that there are distinct ASD-associated challenges for in-person mental health interventions.

Method
A convenience sample of (n = 55) clinicians completed an online survey regarding their perspectives of adopting TMH interventions in ASD, with closed- and open-answered questions. Quantitative and qualitative data were analysed descriptively/inferentially and via Content Analysis, respectively.

Results
Multiple clinicians endorsed each TMH challenges/barrier previously identified as concerns in the non-ASD literature. However, overall levels of concern over challenges/barriers were low, and challenges were more likely to be predicted than experienced and considered to be case/presentation specific. Challenges that were considered ASD-specific included the exacerbation of those associated with in-person delivery in ASD, alongside difficulties with trust and appropriate remote social behaviour. On average, clinicians indicated a preference for 50% TMH interventions post-pandemic. Clinicians’ perceived technological competence and extent of professional experience with ASD were not significantly associated with levels of concern, nor number of experienced challenges, with TMH interventions in ASD.

Conclusion
In support of the existing TMH literature, challenges/barriers were more likely to be predicted than experienced and were considered to be case/presentation-specific, though this may be more variable in ASD owing to the well-established marked heterogeneity in this population. Remote provision of interventions exacerbated in-person ASD-associated challenges, as predicted, but clinician-level factors appeared not to impact TMH perceptions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101956
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Volume94
Issue number101956
Early online date29 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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