Feasibility and Potential Impact of the Building Alliances to Meet Autism Needs in Clinical Encounters (BALANCE) Program

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
S. L. Snow1,2, J. M. Chorney3 and I. M. Smith4, (1)Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada, (2)University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, (3)Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada, (4)Dalhousie University / IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, CANADA
Background: Youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a high need for healthcare services but tend to have difficult experiences. Recommendations for improving care experiences emphasize family-centered approaches (FCC; partnering with families, assessing needs of each child, coordinating care, expressing empathy).Working collaboratively with HCPs and families, we developed an intervention (BALANCE: Building ALliances to meet Autism Needs in Clinical Encounters) to address barriers and improve the delivery of FCC for children with ASD. BALANCE consists of seven online modules for HCPs, and a toolkit of resources designed for the day surgery unit.

Objectives: This study explored the feasibility and potential impact of BALANCE.

Methods: BALANCE was implemented in the day surgery unit of a Canadian pediatric tertiary care hospital. All HCPs were shown the toolkit and invited to complete BALANCE. HCPs self-reported on barriers to and the delivery of FCC at baseline, post-intervention, and three-month follow-up. Linear mixed-effect models were used for analysis. HCPs also rated the feasibility of BALANCE and provided suggestions for improvement.

Results: Of the 106 interdisciplinary healthcare providers on the unit, 70 consented to participate. Of these, 62 started BALANCE, 53 completed all modules. HCPs reported significant reductions in barriers from baseline to post-intervention that were sustained at follow-up, and significant increases in delivery of FCC from baseline to follow-up. More than 95% of HCPs rated modules as usable, acceptable, and feasible. The most common theme regarding improvement was to equalize sound levels across modules.

Conclusions: The implementation of BALANCE was successful, indicating feasibility. BALANCE has the potential to address barriers to care and improve the delivery of FCC to children with ASD. Challenges with the delivery of FCC to children with ASD occur across healthcare contexts; BALANCE could be adapted for other care settings.