The School of Medicine at NUI Galway is conducting the H-FIT study, which aims to improve access to healthcare for people on the autism spectrum. The research team are currently recruiting people on the autism spectrum and their caregivers. Participants who take part in the study will be asked to complete anonymous questionnaires and/or interviews about their experiences in healthcare.
This study is being carried out as people with autism are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems than the general population, and they also tend to use the accident and emergency department and general healthcare more often. However, this is not a result of being on the autism spectrum, but because people with autism experience more difficulties when accessing healthcare than others.
Reasons for difficulties in accessing healthcare include a lack of knowledge and training about autism for healthcare providers, and the hospital environment itself (having bright lights, unfamiliar noises or smells ).
Chloe Walsh, a PhD researcher in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, who is leading the study, said “Many of the challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum can be overcome relatively easily by making small changes in how healthcare is delivered. We need to identify the specific challenges that exist so that we can develop effective strategies to overcome them. It is hoped that this research will be used to develop a training program for healthcare professionals and students so that we can make healthcare visits more autism-friendly.”
The H-FIT study is funded by the Irish Research Council. For more information or to participate in the H-FIT study, contact Chloe Walsh, School of Medicine, NUI Galway at [email protected] or 091 493647.
For more information, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/icapss/research/#heal.