Association Between Therapeutic Interventions and Quality of Life in People With Autism
Research exploring the association of autism interventions with the quality of life (QoL) of adults with autism spectrum disorders was scarce. Although a multitude of interventions are used to target a specific challenge facing the individual with autism, their correlation with achieving a better QoL is largely unknown. We conducted a cross-sectional, correlational survey study to determine the association between seven interventions—behavioral, social, mental health, daily living skills (DLS), vocational, mindfulness, and medications—and the QoL of adults 18 years and older with autism with no intellectual disability (ID) living in Canada. A national sample of 182 autistic adults or proxy reports completed the survey that used the WHOQOL-BREF to measure subjective QoL. Behavioral, mental health, and medications were the most frequently used interventions (67%, 71.4%, and 82.4%, respectively). QoL was lower across all domains of the WHOQOL-BREF compared with the general population. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that characteristics, such as autism severity, being female, and older age negatively predicted QoL across all domains except for the physical domain, whereas being in a relationship positively predicted social QoL explaining 35.2% of the variance. Of the seven interventions used, behavioral therapies and receiving mental health support consistently predicted a better QoL across all domains, except for the environment domain where only mental health support was a significant predictor. Our findings suggest prioritizing provision of behavioral and mental health interventions to adults with autism and inform future research to evaluate their effectiveness in QoL outcomes as an end goal.