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Autism is a disorder that is usually diagnosed in early childhood. The main signs and symptoms of autism involve communication, social interactions and repetitive behaviors.

Doctors + Care Team

Peggy Szeto, MSW, LICSW

Peggy Szeto, MSW, LICSW

Title(s): Clinical Social Worker
Department(s): Psychiatry
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5731
Fax #: 617-636-4852

Psychotherapy depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay

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Research + Clinical Trials

Understanding Disparities in Shared-Decision Making among Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Racial and ethnic minority families receive less family-centered care than their majority counterparts, resulting in disparities in treatment engagement and adverse child outcomes among children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism). Shared-decision making (SDM) increases family-centered care by identifying treatments that meet the needs and goals of the family, and increases engagement, adherence and outcomes. In the context of Autism, a valuable opportunity to engage families in SDM occurs at their first diagnostic encounter, where treatment options are initially discussed. The proposed stakeholder engaged T2 pilot project, draws upon qualitative and quantitative mixed methods to produce objective information about SDM in the context of Autism diagnosis and treatment. This innovative project will aim to identify key elements of SDM during initial diagnostic encounters, explore patient perspectives and the role of race/ethnicity, and investigate provider perspectives in their use of SDM with families. Through direct observation, measurement scales, and qualitative interviews, we will identify the frequency of SDM elements used between 30 parent-provider dyads, as well as information about family preferences, values, and treatment goals for children with Autism, and particularly how they vary by race/ethnicity. Knowledge gained from this foundational research will result in several translational funding opportunities for future SDM interventions: decision aids, provider/parent training, and care system redesign. Our ultimate goal is to increase the use of SDM in clinical practice to provide a system of care for Autism that more fully considers the preferences, values, and treatment goals of families, regardless of their racial/ethnic background.
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