Sarah Curfman

2023 McNair Scholar, Sarah Curfman

University of New Hampshire
McNair Scholar, 2023
Major: Health Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Joan Beasley
Research Title: Evaluating the Relationship Between Primary Medical Conditions and Emergency Service Use Among Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mental Health Conditions

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience health challenges at higher rates than those without intellectual and developmental disabilities (Peacock et al., 2019). These challenges include not only physical health conditions, but also mental health conditions and lead to the increased usage of emergency services (Beverly et al., 2021). People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience mental health needs (ASD-MH) at high rates among those with IDD (Simonoff et al., 2008). In addition, people with ASD experience an array of medical conditions at high rates compared to people without ASD (Croen at el., 2015). In this study, the relationship between primary medical conditions and emergency service use (including psychiatric hospitalizations and emergency department visits) within the ASD-MH population will be explored. The study will analyze secondary data collected from individuals enrolled in the START (an acronym for Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment) Program across the United States. The data is housed at the University of New Hampshire National Center for START Services. START is a national model to provide mental health crisis services to people with IDD and mental health services experiences including people with IDD-MH. This study will evaluate intake data entered by START teams across the country over the last 10 years to evaluate the relationship between ASD-MH, primary medical conditions, and emergency service use. Emergency department visits and psychiatric hospitalization reported one year prior to enrollment in START will be used to explore the relationship between mental health and primary health conditions for people with ASD. This study may help inform the need for an integrated health approach to care.

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