Perspectives of Canadian Rural Consultant Pediatricians on Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • ABSTRACT: Background: Consultant pediatricians represent a potential resource for increasing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnostic capacity; however, little is known about how they perceive their roles in ASD diagnosis. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the perspectives of rural consultant pediatricians regarding their perceived roles, facilitators, and barriers in ASD diagnosis. Methods: We performed a qualitative study using thematic analysis. Consultant pediatricians from 3 small-sized and medium-sized Ontario communities were recruited. Semistructured interviews were conducted, transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Results: Fourteen pediatricians participated in this study. Participants all considered ASD diagnosis to be in their scope of practice. The major theme identified was the process of diagnosing ASD, which occurred in 3 stages: preassessment (gathering information before the first clinic visit), diagnosis, and service access. All these stages are influenced by ecological factors consisting of characteristics of the child, family, individual physician, pediatric group practice, and the broader system of ASD care. Conclusion: Consultant pediatricians practicing in nonurban Ontario communities see ASD diagnosis as part of their scope of practice and collaboratively work within groups to address the needs of their communities. Strategies aimed at increasing diagnostic capacity should target salaried group practices and improve the efficiency of assessments through preclinic information gathering.


  • Das, Jennifer
  • Hartman, Laura
  • King, Gillian
  • Jones-Stokreef, Nicola
  • Moore Hepburn, Charlotte
  • Penner, Melanie

publication date

  • April 2022