Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > A Meta-Synthesis of Experiences of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder and that of their Family Members in Acute Care and Inpatient Settings

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are 1.25 more likely to be hospitalized and much more likely to display negative behavior (i.e. biting, hurting self or others, and engaging in disruptive behavior) than individuals without ASD. Despite this, little research has been done to capture the experiences they or their caregivers face in acute care settings. This qualitative synthesis used the PRISMA guidelines to search for and integrate what is currently known from published qualitative research on the experiences of individuals with ASD and their caregivers when they require services in acute care settings. Three large databases were searched and resulted in 667 studies that were screened. Inclusion criteria included a) a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder b) qualitative studies that focused on experiences of either the individual or family member of the person diagnosed with ASD; c) Experiences had to be based on either acute care or inpatient settings d) Articles had to be published within ten years. Only nine articles met the inclusion criteria. Three broad themes were identified: 1) the unique challenges of ASD; 2) the socially constructed barriers encountered in some acute care settings; and, 3) suggestions to make these settings patient and family friendly to ASD needs. The findings highlight that insensitive cultures lead to socially constructed barriers. More research is needed to further uncover how socially constructed barriers develop and contribute to the disability and disparities in this population so that relevant interventions, policies, and research can be implemented.