Parents’ Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Knowledge of why parents use complementary health approaches (CHA) for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is limited. We conducted a mixed methods study to better understand factors influencing parents’ decision to use CHA for ASD. Parent-reported data about CHA use were collected on a probability sample of 352 young children with ASD in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; or Portland, Oregon. Follow-back interviews were conducted with 31 parents. CHA use was negatively associated with older child age and positively associated with parents’ belief ASD has major consequences, living in Portland or Denver, and medication use. Nine themes help explain these results. Study findings may have utility for healthcare providers working with children with ASD and their families regarding CHA.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Complementary and alternative medicine Complementary health approaches Mixed methods research
This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Grant # 5T32HS000063-24, by the Ruth Warnke Graduate Fellowship from Oregon State University, and by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant # K23MH095828. We thank Lorraine Ball, Adam Branscum, Joseph Catania, Kari-Lyn Sakuma, and Emily Ho for their feedback on the research reported. We also thank Ann Reynolds and Kathryn Smith for their assistance with the submission of research protocol materials to their respective Institutional Review Boards.
OJL conceived of and designed the study; had primary responsibility for collection, management, and analysis of the qualitative data; managed and analyzed all quantitative data used; interpreted the findings; and drafted the initial manuscript. ST was OJL’s dissertation chair. In this capacity, ST participated in the design of the study, interpretation of findings, and revision of the manuscript. KEZ was one of OJL’s committee members. KEZ designed and obtained funding for the parent study to which this study was added. In addition, KEZ participated in the design of the study, collection of qualitative data, interpretation of findings, and revision of the manuscript. KH participated in coding the qualitative data, interpretation of findings, and revision of the manuscript. NMR participated in collection of the qualitative and quantitative data and revision of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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