Exploring the effectiveness of personalised non-pharmacological anxiety treatment for adults with autism


Anxiety is common in people on the autistic spectrum and has the potential to significantly affect quality of life. There is an acknowledgement that anxiety can present differently in people with autism and that current psychological interventions need to be adapted to reflect this. Anxiety was recently rated as a top research priority by the autistic community.

The first phase of the PAT-A project aims to conduct a large, national survey with autistic adults and their relatives. The aim of this phase is to help us to characterise the nature and impact of anxiety in adults with autism and people’s experiences of any psychological intervention for anxiety that they might have received in the past.

The findings from phase one of the project will help to inform the development of a personalised anxiety treatment programme for adults with autism (PAT-A). This will include working with local NHS providers to refine existing treatment packages for anxiety to best meet the needs of autistic adults. Where existing interventions are thought to be unsuitable, we will use innovative treatment packages based on situational fears, phobias or intolerance of uncertainty, which have already been designed and piloted by our team. We will consult with key stakeholders with a view to creating a PAT-A treatment manual.

The final phase of the project aims to test the feasibility and efficacy of the PAT-A intervention in a pilot randomised control trial. Participants in the control group will receive enhanced treatment as usual, which will consist of an emotional literacy programme plus any NHS treatment that they are already receiving. Participants in the experimental group will receive the same emotional literacy training followed by a bespoke PAT-A intervention which is based on their individual needs. We aim to disseminate the findings in collaboration with the autistic community.

Who is involved in this study?

The Principal Investigators for this study are Dr Jeremy Parr and Dr Jacqui Rodgers

Jeremy Parr‌

Jacqui Rodgers

Also involved in the project from the Neurodevelopment and Disability team are:

Ann Le Couter

  • Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Honorary Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Sam Brice

  • Clinical Research Associate

From outside the team are:

  • Mark Freeston (Professor of Clinical Pyschology)
  • Barry Ingham (Consultant Clinical Psychologist)

More information        


Call: 0191 282 3762

Other research

PAT-A sits within the 'Clinical service development' and the 'Effects and acceptability of interventions' research themes.

If you are looking for research linked to ASD, Mental Health or Outcome Measurement, please view the relevant conditions and topics page.