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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Aug;47(8):1301-8. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0438-9. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Autism awareness and attitudes towards treatment in caregivers of children aged 3-6 years in Harbin, China.

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Department of Children's and Adolescent Health, Public Health College of Harbin Medical University, 157 Baojian Road, Nangang District, Harbin, 150086, People's Republic of China.



To (1) estimate the proportion of people in the community who could correctly recognize autism spectrum disorders (ASD); (2) describe the attitudes towards various treatments for ASD; and (3) identify factors associated with ASD recognition.


A population-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in Harbin, China (n = 4,947). We estimated the proportions of participants who were at different levels of knowledge about ASD and of their attitudes towards mental health service use. Multivariate logistic regression modeling was used to identify factors associated with the recognition of ASD.


Overall, 2,786 (57.8%) of the respondents could recognize the ASD. Recognition of autism depended on gender, residing areas, age and educational levels. With respect to the attitudes towards mental health service use for ASD, 4,007 respondents (84.6%) chose to visit a health organization for treatment; 2,470 (68.2%) made the choice of consulting a psychotherapist.


There is a large room for improvement in awareness about ASD and treatment in the Chinese communities. Insufficient knowledge about ASD and inappropriate attitudes towards mental health service use may impede the efforts of early identification and intervention. Health education and promotion are needed to improve people's knowledge about ASD and available mental health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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