BACKGROUND: Psychiatrists play a critical role in identifying and supporting their patients on the autism spectrum in the UK, yet little is known about their knowledge, attitudes and experiences in this regard.
AIMS: To understand psychiatrists' experiences of working with autistic individuals, their confidence in making diagnostic/management decisions and the factors that affect such decisions.
METHOD: A total of 172 psychiatrists took part in an online self-report survey.
RESULTS: Most psychiatrists reported receiving useful training on autism and were knowledgeable about the condition, particularly those with a personal connection to autism. Higher confidence in working with autistic patients was linked to greater levels of autism knowledge, experience and training. Several systemic and autism-specific factors were highlighted by psychiatrists, which were felt to challenge their ability to provide effective care and support for their patients on the autism spectrum.
CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatrists' views corroborated previous research with the autism community, highlighting the need to co-design services that are accessible, respectful and person-centred.
DECLARATION OF INTEREST: I.D. is the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Autism Champion.
Bibliographical noteCopyright The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.