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The Prevalence of Self-injurious Behaviour in Autism: A Meta-analytic Study

Authors
  • Steenfeldt-Kristensen, Catherine1, 2
  • Jones, Chris A.1
  • Richards, Caroline1
  • 1 University of Birmingham,
  • 2 Children’s Neurodevelopmental Service, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, City of Coventry Health Centre, Paybody Building, 2 Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS UK
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Apr 15, 2020
Volume
50
Issue
11
Pages
3857–3873
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-020-04443-1
PMID: 32297123
PMCID: PMC7557528
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Self-injurious behaviour is purportedly common in autism, but prevalence rates have not yet been synthesised meta-analytically. In the present study, data from 14,379 participants in thirty-seven papers were analysed to generate a pooled prevalence estimate of self-injury in autism of 42% (confidence intervals 0.38–0.47). Hand-hitting topography was the most common form of self-injury (23%), self-cutting topography the least common (3%). Sub-group analyses revealed no association between study quality, participant intellectual disability or age and overall prevalence rate of self-injury. However, females obtained higher prevalence rates than males ( p = .013) and hair pulling and self-scratching were associated with intellectual disability ( p = .008 and p = .002, respectively). The results confirm very high rates of self-injury in autism and highlight within group risk-markers. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s10803-020-04443-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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