Adapting an evidence-based intervention for autism spectrum disorder for scaling up in resource-constrained settings: the development of the PASS intervention in South Asia

Glob Health Action. 2015 Aug 3:8:27278. doi: 10.3402/gha.v8.27278. eCollection 2015.


Background: Evidence-based interventions for autism spectrum disorders evaluated in high-income countries typically require highly specialised manpower, which is a scarce resource in most low- and middle-income settings. This resource limitation results in most children not having access to evidence-based interventions.

Objective: This paper reports on the systematic adaptation of an evidence-based intervention, the Preschool Autism Communication Therapy (PACT) evaluated in a large trial in the United Kingdom for delivery in a low-resource setting through the process of task-shifting.

Design: The adaptation process used the Medical Research Council framework for the development and adaptation of complex interventions, focusing on qualitative methods and case series and was conducted simultaneously in India and Pakistan.

Results: The original intervention delivered by speech and language therapists in a high-resource setting required adaptation in some aspects of its content and delivery to enhance contextual acceptability and to enable the intervention to be delivered by non-specialists.

Conclusions: The resulting intervention, the Parent-mediated intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Asia (PASS), shares the core theoretical foundations of the original PACT but is adapted in several respects to enhance its acceptability, feasibility, and scalability in low-resource settings.

Keywords: adaptation; autism spectrum disorder; intervention; low-resource setting; task-sharing.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Pakistan
  • Parents*
  • Play and Playthings