Factors Identified by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder That Influence Treatment Selection



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Background: There are many treatments available for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and several variables affect which treatments are utilized. Parents are the primary decision-makers in selecting treatment for their child with ASD; however, little is known about how parents determine what treatment is appropriate for their children. The treatments parents select are likely influenced by a diverse array of factors including those related to the child, treatment, family, and societal/community context. A literature review found no published, psychometrically validated measure of the factor’s parents perceive as important when selecting a treatment for their child with ASD. Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to expand on the work of a previous study by examining the psychometric properties of the Factors Influencing Treatment Selection (FITS) questionnaire. This measure was designed to measure multiple treatment decision-making factors by parents of children with ASD. Having a measure to systematically assess what is important to parents responsible for ASD treatment selection may improve research on this topic and allow providers to tailor their recommendations for treatment and guide discussion of parent’s treatment choices in a manner that could increase the acceptance of and adherence to evidence-based treatments, ultimately positively affecting treatment gains for the child with ASD. Methods: The FITS is a 28-item questionnaire with four factors (i.e., child-specific, treatment-specific, family-specific, and societal/community-specific factors) that was developed by the researcher and designed to assess what parents perceive as important during treatment selection. Parents (n = 126) of school-aged (4-17 years) children with ASD completed the FITS online. The psychometric properties of the FITS were examined using confirmatory factor analysis. Additionally, differences in FITS scores were explored based on treatment usage. Results: Reliability analyses indicated that each subscale of the FITS had adequate reliability. A confirmatory factor analysis revealed good fit of the four-factor measurement model to the data. Additional analyses revealed differences in FITS scores based on treatment usage. Conclusions: The current study offers meaningful contributions to the research on factors influencing parents’ treatment selection for their child with ASD. Notably, this study provides psychometric support for a promising measurement tool. The results of this study highlight the clinical implications of this tool and the importance of future work examining factors that are influential in treatment selection.



Autism spectrum disorder, Treatment choices, Autism treatment