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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

Screening for Autism in Pre-School Children in Primary Care: Systematic Review of English Language Tools

Mawle, E., & Griffiths, P. (2006).
International Journal of Nursing Studies, 43(5), 623-636.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question No
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible Yes

Description: This is a review of studies assessing the diagnostic accuracy of autism screening and diagnostic tools in preschool children.

Question(s) Addressed:

Question not specifically stated.

Population: Participants under the age of four at time of screening with no prior diagnosis of developmental delay.

Intervention/Assessment: English language screening/diagnostic tool specific for autism/autistic spectrum disorder

Number of Studies Included: 3

Years Included: Through 2004



  • Assessment/Screening
    • Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders
      • Three studies were included in this review and none met the rigorous research standards needed to determine the accuracy of the screening tools. However the best available evidence suggests that “the CHAT performs poorly as a screening instrument” (p. 632). The results of included studies indicate a high specificity for the CHAT but an undesirable “level of sensitivity with a consequence that a high proportion of cases on the Autistic spectrum would be undetected within a screened population” (p. 632). The CHAT may have greater usefulness as a secondary level screening. Use of the CHAT “in routine childhood surveillance is not yet warranted based on the current evidence” (p. 633).
      • “Despite being recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics we found no published evidence for a further tool, the PDDST” (p. 632).

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Added to Compendium: March 2012

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