A proposed service model for early identification of autism spectrum disorder in ethnic communities in Southern Israel

Orly Kerub, Anat Rosenthal, Eric J. Haas, Gal Meiri, Idan Menashe, Nadav Davidovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early autism spectrum disorder (ASD) detection is a precondition for effective intervention and facilitates significant improvements in functioning. In Israel, toddlers undergo general developmental screening by public health nurses (PHNs) at maternal and child health centres (MCHCs). Nevertheless, there are disparities among ethnic groups in the reported incidence of ASD. By means of an ecological model (EM), we identified strategies that improve ASD detection in the Bedouin community by investigating the social and policy factors that affect diagnosis. We conducted in-depth interviews with 18 policy makers and service providers and three focus groups of PHNs and paediatricians. We mapped the strategies for identifying toddlers with ASD based on the three EM levels. Correlations were established by comparing the codes within and between the EM levels. At the macro-level, the policy makers’ strategy for improving ASD detection in the Bedouin community reflected the ideology, values and goals of the PHNs and included the MCHCs as the sole institution involved in detecting ASD. At the meso-level of the service providers, the key elements of the strategy consisted of actualising the professional potential of PHNs and patients’ case management. At the micro-level was the population that utilises the services and complies with recommendations. A correlation was established between the PHNs’ values and goals and patients’ case management. Actualising their professional potential influenced the population's compliance. To reduce gaps in ASD diagnosis between Bedouin communities and the general population, it is necessary to identify and change the policy factors that influence access to services for children with ASD at every EM level while incorporating PHNs from the Bedouin community in future services. Culturally appropriate policies, screening policies and interventions must be developed to serve the needs of Bedouin children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1399
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • detected autism spectrum disorder
  • ecological model
  • policy
  • public health nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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