A personality questionnaire commonly used to diagnose autism may not be reliable

A common personality test used as a screening diagnostic tool for autism spectrum disorder may not be as reliable as previously thought.

According to researchers at the University of Bath, their new findings released in Experimental Results have yielded psychometric concerns for health professionals using the 10-item Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ10) questionnaire.

The primary use of the AQ10 test is to measure any potential personality characteristics associated with autism. The 10-item condensed version, in comparison to the standard 50-item measure, allows for shorter diagnoses screenings of such symptoms.

But in the new study examining the data of 6,595 adults with autism, the research team found low reliability across a couple of statistical techniques, scrutinizing its effectiveness in measuring autism.

“By analysing AQ10 data from a large non-clinical sample of adults, we found that the AQ10 does not have a unifactorial factor structure, and instead appears to have several factors. The AQ10 also had poor internal reliability,” the study’s co-authors stated in the findings.

“Whilst the AQ10 has important clinical utility in screening for diagnosable autism, it may not be a psychometrically robust measure when administered in non-clinical samples from the general population. Therefore, we caution against its use as a measure of trait autism in future research,” the co-authors concluded.

For future research, addressing the issues highlighted in the new findings is detrimental to further improve clinical practice and autism research.

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