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Screening for autism spectrum disorders in adult psychiatric out-patients: a preliminary report.

Journal article
Authors Lena Nylander
Christopher Gillberg
Published in Acta Psychiatricia Scandinavica
Volume 103
Issue 6
Pages 428-434
ISSN 0001-690X
Publication year 2001
Published at Institute for the Health of Women and Children, Dept of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Pages 428-434
Language en
Keywords Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Autistic Disorder/Epidemiology, Comorbidity, Female, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Mental Disorders/Complications/Psychology, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity
Subject categories Psychiatry


To estimate the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) among adult psychiatric out-patients; to evaluate the efficacy of a new brief screening questionnaire (ASDASQ). Method: 1323 adult psychiatric out-patients were screened by staff. Analysis of psychiatric records of patients (n = 66) scoring high on the ASDASQ yielded 31 patients with a suspected ASD. Twenty-two of these patients were clinically examined. Three psychometric aspects of the questionnaire were studied. RESULTS: Seventeen patients were found by clinical examination to have an ASD. Since two patients scoring low on the ASDASQ were known to have an ASD, at least 19 patients in this population (1.4%) had a definite ASD. Seventeen of the ASD patients had been previously diagnosed with other psychiatric disorders, most frequently schizophrenia (n = 5). Of patients attending a treatment centre for severe psychiatric disabilities (n = 499), 3.2% had an ASD. The ASDASQ showed good reliability across and within raters. Internal consistency was excellent.

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