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, 20 (1), 687

KONTAKT© for Australian Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: Protocol of a Randomized Control Trial

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KONTAKT© for Australian Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: Protocol of a Randomized Control Trial

Bahareh Afsharnejad et al. Trials.

Abstract

Background: Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience impairing challenges in social communication and interaction across multiple contexts. While social skills group training (SSGT) has shown moderate effects on various sociability outcomes in ASD, there is a need for (1) replication of effects in additional clinical and cultural contexts, (2) designs that employ active control groups, (3) calculation of health economic benefits, (4) identification of the optimal training duration, and (5) measurement of individual goals and quality of life outcomes.

Method/design: With the aim of investigating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a SSGT, KONTAKT©, a two-armed randomized control trial with adolescents aged 12-17 years (N = 90) with ASD and an intelligence quotient (IQ) of over 70 will be undertaken. Following stratification for centre and gender, participants will be randomly assigned to either KONTAKT© or to an active control group, a group-based cooking programme. Participants will attend both programmes in groups of 6-8 adolescents, over 16 one-and-a-half-hour sessions. The primary outcome examined is adolescent self-rated achievement of personally meaningful social goals as assessed via the Goal Attainment Scaling during an interview with a blinded clinician. Secondary outcomes include adolescent self-reported interpersonal efficacy, quality of life, social anxiety, loneliness, face emotion recognition performance and associated gaze behaviour, and parent proxy reports of autistic traits, quality of life, social functioning, and emotion recognition and expression. Cost-effectiveness will be investigated in relation to direct and indirect societal and healthcare costs.

Discussion: The primary outcomes of this study will be evidenced in the anticipated achievement of adolescents' personally meaningful social goals following participation in KONTAKT© as compared to the active control group. This design will enable rigorous evaluation of the efficacy of KONTAKT©, exercising control over the possibly confounding effect of exposure to a social context of peers with a diagnosis of ASD.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR). ACTRN12617001117303. Registered on 31 July 2017. anzctr.org.au ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03294668. Registered on 22 September 2017. https://clinicaltrials.gov.

Keywords: Adolescents; Autism spectrum disorder; KONTAKT; Social skills; Training.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no competing of interests. Sven Bölte receives royalties from Hogrefe publishers for the German and Swedish KONTAKT© manuals and the Swedish KONTAKT© Activity books. This research is conducted independent from the service provider with no competing interest.

Figures

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Fig. 1
Participant recruitment, allocation, and assessment procedure

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References

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