To examine the effect of a brief Enhanced training using the information-motivation-behavior (IMB) change model on improving providers' surveillance rates and accuracy of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) detection.
Toddlers (n = 5,672) were screened for ASD during their pediatric well-child visits. Pediatric providers (n = 120) were randomized to receive Enhanced (incorporating components of the IMB model) or Control training. Providers indicated whether they had an ASD concern at each well-child visit. Toddlers who were positive on any screener and/or whose provider indicated ASD concern were invited for a diagnostic evaluation. Differences in provider-indicated ASD concerns before and after training were evaluated using log-linear analyses.
The Enhanced training did not have a significant effect on provider-endorsed ASD concerns (p = 0.615) or accuracy of endorsing concerns (p = 0.619). Providers in the Control training showed a significant reduction in indicating whether or not they had concerns after the training (from 71.9% to 64.3%), which did not occur in the Enhanced group. The Enhanced training led to more frequent endorsements of language (χ2 = 8.772, p = 0.003) and restricted and repetitive behavior (χ2 = 7.918, p = 0.005) concerns for children seen after training.
Provider training had limited impact on ASD surveillance, indicating the importance of using formal screening instruments that rely on parent report during well-child visits to complement developmental surveillance. Future research should examine whether providers who indicate specific concerns are more likely to accurately refer children for ASD evaluations.