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General health of adults with autism spectrum disorders - A whole country population cross-sectional study

Journal article
Authors E. Rydzewska
L. A. Hughes-McCormack
Christopher Gillberg
A. Henderson
C. MacIntyre
J. Rintoul
S. A. Cooper
Published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Volume 60
Pages 59-66
ISSN 1750-9467
Publication year 2019
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 59-66
Language en
Keywords Autism spectrum disorder, Adults, General health status, Health inequalities, Observational study, intellectual disability, suicidality, depression, prevalence, psychosis
Subject categories Neurosciences, Psychiatry


Background: General health status in adult populations with autism spectrum disorders has been little studied. We aimed to investigate general health status and predictors of poor health in adults with autism spectrum disorders compared with other adults. Method: Whole country data were drawn from Scotland's Census, 2011. We calculated and compared the frequencies of health status in adults with and without autism spectrum disorders. We then used logistic regressions to calculate odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of autism predicting poor general health in the whole population, adjusted for age and gender, and OR (95% CI) of age and gender predicting poor general health within the autism spectrum disorders population. Results: Autism spectrum disorders were reported for 6649/3,746,584 (0.2%) adults aged 25 + years, of whom 46.8% (N = 3111) had poor general health, compared with 23.7% (N = 887,878) of other people. Poor health was common across the entire lifecourse for adults with autism spectrum disorders. Autism had OR = 5.1 (4.9-5.4, 95% CI) for predicting poor general health, or OR = 7.5 (6.9-8.2, 95% CI) when the interaction with age was included. Poorer health was more common at older age, and for women. Conclusions: Poor general health merits attention across the full lifecourse for adults with autism. Health practitioners need to be alert to the burden of potential health problems to seek them out to be addressed, and so the health agenda can turn towards potential mechanisms for prevention and better support for adults who may call upon services for people with autism.

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