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A Multistate Trial of an Early Surveillance Program for Autism Within General Practices in Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-03, 00:54 authored by Josephine BarbaroJosephine Barbaro, A Masi, Melissa GilbertMelissa Gilbert, Radhika Nair, Ifrah AbdullahiIfrah Abdullahi, J Descallar, Cheryl DissanayakeCheryl Dissanayake, J Eastwood, I Hasan, B Jalaludin, L Karlov, F Khan, J Kohlhoff, ST Liaw, R Lingam, A Mendoza Diaz, N Ong, CWM Tam, Katy UnwinKaty Unwin, S Woolfenden, V Eapen
Background: The early detection of developmental conditions such as autism is vital to ensure children can access appropriate and timely evidence-based supports, services, and interventions. Children who have undetected developmental conditions early in life are more likely to develop later health, developmental, learning, and behavioral issues, which in turn can have a cumulative effect over the life course. Methods: The current protocol describes a multi-site, cluster randomized control trial comparing a developmental surveillance pathway for autism to usual care, using opportunistic visits to general practitioners (GPs). Units of randomization are GP clinics across two Australian states (New South Wales and Victoria), with thirty clinics within each state, each of which will aim to recruit approximately forty children aged between ~18- and 24-months, for a total of ~2,400 participants. Children will be randomized to two clusters; namely, an autism surveillance pathway (ASP) or surveillance as usual (SaU). The screening process for the ASP arm involves primary and secondary screenings for developmental concerns for autism, using both parent and GP reports and observations. Children in both arms who show signs of developmental concerns for autism will be offered a full developmental assessment by the research team at 24 months of age to determine the efficacy of developmental surveillance in successfully identifying children with autism. Trial Registration: The trial is registered with ANZCTR (ACTRN12619001200178) and reporting of the trial results will be according to recommendations in the CONSORT Statement.


The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program. The funder did not have any role in the design of the study and collection of data, nor in the analysis or interpretation of the findings.


Publication Date



Frontiers in Pediatrics



Article Number

ARTN 640359







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