Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess nurses’ knowledge of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their self-efficacy to manage patients with ASD in Saudi Arabia.
Methods: Four hundred nurses working in Saudi Arabia completed a self-report questionnaire, to measure their knowledge about the four domains of ASD knowledge, treatment of ASD, myths and misconceptions regarding ASD, and their perceptions of their self-efficacy, in general, and with regard to caring with persons with ASD, in particular. The questionnaire included the Knowledge about Childhood Autism Among Health Workers (KCAHW) and the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE). Independent sample t-test and ANOVA were used to analyse the data.
Results: The nurses had high KCAHW and GSE scores. In addition, their knowledge of the ASD domains and their self-efficacy were found to be predominantly influenced by their age, level of qualification, work experience, professional level, personal acquaintance with persons with ASD, frequency of encounters with a patient with ASD, and the typical age group of the patients with ASD.
Conclusions: The study’s findings indicated that nurses in the KSA appear to have a good awareness about the different aspects of ASD. In addition, they have a good opinion of their capacity to deal with patients with ASD. Nevertheless, there is certainly a requirement for sustained programmes to build awareness of ASD in Saudi Arabia. Continuing education programmes are needed to offer updated information regarding treatment and management of ASD for healthcare professionals. The knowledge and self-efficacy of nurses, in particular, regarding dealing with patients with ASD could be improved using training interventions such as, simulations. Suggestions for future research and practice, and limitations are provided.