Social workers’ knowledge of autism and self-efficacy in its diagnosis and interventions

Yael Karni-Visel, Osnat Atun-Einy, Ayelet Ben-Sasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Early detection of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and adequate care provision depend upon competent community service providers. Social workers are well positioned to detect ASD, especially in marginalized populations. This study assessed social workers’ ASD knowledge and clinical self-efficacy in ASD care. Method: Social workers (N = 229, M = 13.97 years of experience, SD = 8.59) completed the ASD Knowledge and Self-Efficacy Questionnaire and a demographic and professional background questionnaire. Results: Participants displayed a fair level of knowledge regarding ASD etiology and interventions and a low rate of lack of ASD knowledge. Social workers who worked in multidisciplinary settings showed significantly broader knowledge of ASD's early clinical signs and diagnostic criteria and declared less lack of knowledge than those from welfare agencies. Using multiple regression analysis, self-efficacy was positively predicted by professional and knowledge parameters. The model explained 47.1% of the variance. Conclusions: A multidisciplinary setting enhances social workers’ theoretical and practical ASD knowledge, enabling them to face detection and intervention challenges. An in-depth understanding of knowledge gaps will assist in planning specialized training for social workers and promoting their self-efficacy in assessing and supporting children with ASD and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102251
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Autism
  • Clinical self-efficacy
  • Knowledge
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Social work

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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