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Five-year NHS autism research strategy for England

front cover of the full autism research strategy

A five-year NHS autism research strategy, to facilitate the use of the best current evidence when making decisions about autism services provided by or paid for by the NHS in England.

Introduction

Autism is not a rare condition (about 1–2% of England’s population is autistic).

Autism should not bar anyone from a happy, healthy and long life; yet relative to their non-autistic peers, autistic people frequently experience the following:

• More mental ill-health.
• Greater likelihood of poor physical health and/or disabilities.
• More and/or broader determinants of poor health.
• Greater difficulties accessing care.

Most autistic people have multiple co-occurring long-term conditions which underscores the importance of not only improving autism-specific services but of improving care for autistic people across all health and care services.

Why a research strategy is needed

Change is needed to ensure health policy and clinical decisions about the care provided to autistic people is consistently based on the best available scientific evidence.

Subjective belief, of professionals, commissioners, clinicians, patients or advocates, irrespective of its provenance and no matter how principled, provides an insufficient justification for policy or clinical decision making.

The aims of this strategy

  1. Determine which areas of NHS autism service provision in England are based on reliable evidence and which areas require further research.
  2. Ensure there is a better fit between the evidence produced and the evidence gaps in the NHS in England.
  3. Facilitate the use of the best current evidence when making decisions about autism services provided by or paid for by the NHS in England.
  4. Improve the mechanisms to robustly evaluate the effectiveness of policy and funding decisions about NHS-provided healthcare for autistic people in England.

Strategic action to be taken

The following section focuses on the actions to be taken to increase the extent to which evidence-based healthcare is provided for autistic people in England.

1. Build an evidence culture in NHS autism services

2. Appropriate funding for autism research in England

3. Answering relevant research questions

4. Raising the quality of research

5. Using evidence in national autism health policy

View or download the full strategy

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Five-year NHS autism research strategy for England

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