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Economic benefits of ADIE treatment for autistic people with anxiety

by Bryony Doughty

Thousands of people could potentially benefit from a new treatment to an anxiety disorder which affects 18% of autistic people, were it rolled out across the UK. The economic benefits of ADIE, a treatment for autistic people who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, could be valued as high as £125-£170 million nationally.

New research by Pro Bono Economics (PBE) for the charity MQ Mental Health Research suggested that there are 105,000 autistic people in the UK with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, a condition which can have a serious impact on sufferers’ lives. The condition leads people to worry excessively over multiple things at once, at levels which can be debilitating, and can lead to difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, dizziness and heart palpitations.

Though autistic people are about three times as likely to be diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder than the general population, many treatments are not designed with autistic people in mind. Standard NHS treatments for anxiety such as talking and mindfulness therapies may not be appropriate for those autistic people who have difficulty with social interaction and communication.

While NICE guidelines recommend doctors seek specialist advice on tailoring therapies for autistic people, this may not always be available.


What is the economic benefit of ADIE?

ADIE – Aligning Dimensions of Interoceptive Experience - is a new treatment which has been developed with autistic people in mind. It helps autistic people to better recognise their feelings of anxiety, and trials have shown that it can effectively reduce anxiety in individuals suffering from General Anxiety Disorder.

The treatment was developed by Professor Hugo Critchley, an MQ researcher and the Chair of Psychiatry at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

In the report, PBE calculated that making ADIE available to all autistic people suffering from General Anxiety Disorder in the UK could lead to at least a temporary recovery for almost 6,000 people. The improvement to their quality of life over a year of recovery would have a value of £125-£170 million, or between £21,000 and £28,000 per person.

ADIE treatment has been shown to improve recovery from General Anxiety Disorder in clinical trials. By applying the same recovery rates to the general population of autistic people who might seek treatment for their anxiety, PBE has estimated the number of additional people who might recover from anxiety if the treatment were made more broadly available. These are converted into estimated values reflecting improved quality of life using standard wellbeing measures from the WHO and Treasury.

The ADIE training could also be made available to other groups of people who struggle with anxiety and have found standard treatments ineffective. Clinical trials are ongoing to explore the treatment’s wider potential.

Rachel Gomez, Senior Economist at Pro Bono Economics, said:

“Experiencing Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be extremely challenging at the best of times. But managing these symptoms can be more difficult if we face other barriers in our lives. Not only are autistic people three times more likely to experience GAD than the UK average, but they often face barriers in everyday life when society, infrastructure and systems do not meet their needs. In practice, this means that accessing medical diagnosis and treatment can be more difficult, and treatments may not be created and researched with the needs of autistic people in mind. ADIE treatment can improve the quality of autistic people’s lives if they’re experiencing anxiety, and rolling it out could make a difference at scale.

“Mental health makes such a difference to our lives, so it’s essential that care is effective and available for those who need it.

This work adds to the calls from many charities and advocacy groups for continued research on autistic peoples experiences, their needs and how best to address them. By actively including autistic people, and others whose needs are often overlooked by society, in the heart of health research and treatments, we can shine a light on the value of accessible support.”

Mariana Bolivar, Research Lead at MQ Mental Health Research said:

“PBE analysis shows that ADIE is a promising path for autistic people to make a sustained recovery from generalized anxiety, a condition they're up to three times more likely to face than the general population. We need further economic analysis in mental health research to identify which treatments have the greatest potential to transform public health and ultimately people's lives."

This article was originally published by MQ Mental Health


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