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Screening Practices of Family Physicians and Pediatricians in 2 Southern States

Gillis, Jennifer M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181bc4e21

Since 2000, there has been an increasing emphasis on screening for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during well-child visits (P. A. Filipek et al., 2000; C. P. Johnson & S. M. Myers, 2007). Pediatricians surveyed in 2 mid-Atlantic states reported extremely low rates of screening for ASD (8% of participants) in comparison with higher rates of general developmental screening (80%; S. dosReis, C. L. Weiner, L. Johnson, & C. J. Newschaffer, 2006). The current study was an extension of the study by S. dosReis et al and targeted a different geographic area (ie, southern states). Both pediatricians and family physicians were recruited to participate in the survey by using paper-pencil and online survey methods. Results revealed a high rate of general developmental screening for both pediatricians and family physicians. Despite participants' acknowledgment of increased prevalence rates of ASD, low rates of screening for ASD were reported (28%) and important barriers were identified. In light of these results, alternative and creative solutions to improve screening practices are discussed.

Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

Corresponding Author: Jennifer M. Gillis, PhD, 226 Thach, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849 (

The study was funded by an Outreach Scholarship Grant from Auburn University. The author thanks Dr Susan dosReis for her permission to use her survey for this study. The author also thanks the research assistance of Joel Watson, Sarah Peden, Robert Butler, and Andrew Dahl and the participating pediatricians and family physicians for taking the time to complete the study survey.

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.