The Transition to the Adult Health Care System Among Youths With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Jul 1;68(7):735-738. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2017 Mar 15.


Objective: The study examined how health care utilization patterns among youths with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) change as they transition into the adult health care system.

Methods: Data came from the Clinformatics Data Mart Database, a nationally diverse, clinically rich, private insurance claims database. The analytic sample consisted of youths ages 16 to 23 who were diagnosed as having ASD (N=16,338). Cross-sectional multivariate linear regressions determined whether service usage in home, office or outpatient, inpatient, and emergency department (ED) settings differed by age.

Results: The proportion of youths with ASD who received services declined with age in each setting except the ED. A similar reduction existed in number of visits to office or outpatient settings and inpatient settings, while home and ED visits remained stable. Service utilization declined faster among youths with co-occurring intellectual disability.

Conclusions: There is a notable decline in service utilization across multiple settings as youths with ASD transition from pediatric to adult health care.

Keywords: Autism; Health Insurance; Intellectual Disability; Transition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transition to Adult Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult