Psychiatrists play a critical role in identifying and supporting their patients on the autism spectrum in the UK, yet little is known about their knowledge, attitudes and experiences in this regard.
To understand psychiatrists' experiences of working with autistic individuals, their confidence in making diagnostic/management decisions and the factors that affect such decisions.
A total of 172 psychiatrists took part in an online self-report survey.
Most psychiatrists reported receiving useful training on autism and were knowledgeable about the condition, particularly those with a personal connection to autism. Higher confidence in working with autistic patients was linked to greater levels of autism knowledge, experience and training. Several systemic and autism-specific factors were highlighted by psychiatrists, which were felt to challenge their ability to provide effective care and support for their patients on the autism spectrum.
Psychiatrists' views corroborated previous research with the autism community, highlighting the need to co-design services that are accessible, respectful and person-centred.
Declaration of interest
I.D. is the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Autism Champion.