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Aims:

This study aims to understand what issues may impact on consultations involving GPs and primary care staff and their 'high functioning' autistic patients by identifying the facilitators and barriers patients experience to good communication. 

Why this is important:

Autistic people can experience difficulties in communication and interacting with others. This may be due to a lack of mainstream understanding about autism. While there is a lot of research around children and GPs, particularly around the diagnosis of autism, much less is known about adults’ experiences with their GPs. Good communication is central to good healthcare and it is important that GPs, and primary care staff, are able to communicate effectively with their autistic patients.

Methods:

We have interviewed 36 autistic adults, who have given us permission to use their interviews for research. These interviews were conducted in a flexible way to allow participants to express themselves comfortably, for example, one interview was conducted via email.

We will code and analyse these interviews to identify what people describe as helping or hindering communication with their GPs. We will also run two focus groups, one with GPs and one with practice nurses, to discuss the findings and their implications. We will produce a brief resource of video clips and text illustrating these issues to publish at Healthtalk.org.