Journal Articles

Publication Date



BMC Medical Education


BACKGROUND: Lack of physicians' knowledge regarding mental health, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) could have adverse effects on affected individuals' health and quality of life. The purpose of this study was to provide construct validity for a modified questionnaire in order to determine the self-reported competency for underlying sub-constructs in ASD, make inferences on perceived competence in ASD based on a sample of Romanian physicians, and identify physicians' characteristics associated with these sub-domains of competency.

METHODS: For this survey, we modified a questionnaire that was used in Pakistan and Turkey, and administered it to a sample of 383 practicing physicians in Romania to assess their perceived competency regarding ASD. Exploratory factor analysis on 12 knowledge questions revealed five sub-domains: stigma, potential causes, children's behavior, misconceptions, and educational needs associated with ASD knowledge. Using General Linear Models, we determined physicians' characteristics that predict the total competency score and various competency sub-scores.

RESULTS: Seventy-five percent of the responding physicians were female and 30% had over 30 years practicing medicine. The majority (73-94%) of physicians have correctly responded to some basic questions regarding knowledge about ASD. We also found that younger physicians were more knowledgeable about potential causes of ASD than older physicians (Adjusted Mean Score (AMS): 2.90 vs. 2.18, P < 0.01), while older physicians knew more about the behavior of children with ASD (AMS: 0.64 vs. 0.37, P = 0.02). We found a significant interaction (P < 0.01) between television as source of ASD knowledge and city where the clinic is located in relation to knowledge of the physicians regarding stigma related to ASD. However, the total score was not associated with the variables associated with sub-domains.

CONCLUSION: Using factor analysis, we demonstrated construct validity of five sub-domains related to Romanian physicians' knowledge about ASD that include stigma, potential causes, behavior in ASD children, special education needs, and misconceptions related to ASD. The lack of significant association of the knowledge of physicians on ASD neither with the Psychiatry nor the Pediatric ward rotations at medical school may support the need for improving the curriculum on ASD in Romanian medical schools.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Child, Female, Humans, Physicians, Quality of Life, Romania, Self Report



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.