Date of Award

8-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Krys Kaniasty, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cora Lou Sherburne, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Catherine Raeff, Ph.D.

Abstract

This project describes current general developmental and autism screening practices of pediatricians in the United States following the latest practice guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in November 2007. It compares results to data collected in previous surveys on this topic, which suggest that pediatricians are not following the AAP guidelines despite repeated recommendations to do so over the past 8 years. A 110-question web-based survey was made available to 3863 potential participants via an invitation letter sent out by email. Questions about developmental screening practices, knowledge of reimbursement for screening, training, and knowledge of the latest AAP practice guidelines on developmental screening were asked. Results from the analysis of distribution frequencies indicated that a majority of respondents are not familiar with current AAP guidelines on general developmental and autism-specific screening. Furthermore, only 42% reported routinely screening for autism. In terms of barriers, it was found that 28% of those who do not routinely screen specifically for autism reported that they rely primarily on clinical observations instead of using a standardized screening tool as recommended. Twenty-seven percent identified lack of familiarity with autism screeners as the reason. Sixty-six percent of the respondents in this survey admitted never having billed for reimbursement for brief developmental screening using CPT code 96110, and over 85% have never used CPT code 96111 to obtain reimbursement for extended developmental screening. Ninety-five percent of the respondents believe that there is currently an "Average" (35%) or "Above Average" (60%) need for professional postdoctoral training related to developmental delays and autism spectrum disorders. The data from this survey indicate that pediatricians continue to fall short in meeting the AAP recommended practice guidelines on developmental and autism-specific screening and that comprehensive professional training is needed to address this problem.

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