A meta-synthesis of how parents of children with autism describe their experience of accessing and using routine healthcare services for their children

Kobie Boshoff, Holly Bowen-Salter, Deanna Gibbs, Rebecca L. Phillips, Lisa Porter, Louise Wiles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In order to present a greater understanding to parental experiences of supporting their child with autism to access healthcare services, a systematic review of qualitative research was undertaken, addressing the review question: ‘How do parents of children with autism describe their experiences of utilising routine healthcare services?’. After a systematic search and selection process, 12 studies were identified and appraised independently by paired reviewers using an adapted version of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool. Data were synthesised by two reviewers in line with the Joanna Briggs Approach for meta-aggregation. The 12 studies included in this review (spanning 2012–2020), represented the voices of 240 parents. The synthesis resulted in the following synthesised finding (based on four categories that emerged from the original studies' themes): parents report challenges in accessing and use of mainstream health services, for their child with autism, due to not having a voice, inadequate communication and lack of understanding from health service providers. This review raises our awareness of parents' experiences of healthcare services and will assist healthcare practitioners to reconsider their own communication style, understanding and approach with children with autism and their families. From these findings, we recommend that healthcare practitioners more readily incorporate parents' contributory expertise into healthcare visits. These recommendations will help facilitate effective, supportive and positive healthcare experiences for all involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1668-1682
Number of pages15
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Volume29
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • autism
  • health service
  • meta-synthesis
  • parents

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