General health status of adults


General health status in adult populations with autism has been little studied. We aimed to investigate general health status and predictors of poor health in adults with autism compared with other adults.

What we did

Whole country data were drawn from Scotland’s Census, 2011. We calculated and compared the frequencies of health status in adults with and without autism. We then used logistic regressions to calculate odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of autism predicting poor general health in the whole population, adjusted for age and gender, and OR (95% CI) of age and gender predicting poor general health within the autism population.

What we found

Autism was reported for 6,649/3,746,584 (0.2%) adults aged 25+ years, of whom 46.8% (N = 3,111) had poor general health, compared with 23.7% (N = 887,878) of other adults. Poor health was common across the entire life-course for adults with autism. Autism had OR = 5.1 (4.9–5.4, 95% CI) for predicting poor general health, or OR = 7.5 (6.9–8.2, 95% CI) when the interaction with age was included, meaning that the influence of autism on poor health was even greater than that of older age in the whole population. Poorer health was more common at older age, and for women with autism.

What this means

Poor general health merits attention across the full life-course for adults with autism. Health practitioners need to be alert to the burden of potential health problems to seek them out to be addressed, and so the health agenda can turn towards potential mechanisms for prevention. 

The original publication associated with this research can be found here.

For further information on this project, please contact Ewelina Rydzewska

Page updated 7th September 2020