Increasing face mask wearing in autistic individuals using behavior analytic interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Rebekah Cowell, Athanasios Vostanis, Peter E. Langdon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of behavior-analytic procedures in increasing face mask-wearing in autistic individuals. This comes following recommended guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. A systematic review and meta-analysis were completed of peer-reviewed and grey literature. Six databases were searched and seven studies using single-case experimental designs met the eligibility criteria which were then quality appraised. Data were extracted on participant characteristics, study design, independent and dependent variables, fidelity, generalization, maintenance, and social validity outcomes. Both the non-overlap of all pairs and Baseline Corrected TAU were used to estimate effect size. Two studies were rated strong and borderline strong quality and five were rated as adequate or below. All studies showed positive outcomes for mask-wearing, with an average of 0.92 for non-overlap of all pairs and 0.47 for Baseline Corrected Tau effect sizes. The most common and effective procedures for increasing mask-wearing were graded exposure and differential and positive reinforcement. Factors such as mode of delivery, implementer, and setting did not appear to influence study outcomes. Procedures were found to be rated as acceptable by parents and professionals in five of the studies. The existing literature on increasing face mask-wearing in autistic individuals provides promising findings to add to existing literature around increasing tolerance to medical equipment and hygiene practices in autistic populations. However, these findings are based on a small sample size, with six of the studies taking place in the United States with varying study quality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date26 Sep 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Hygiene
  • Mask-Wearing
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Tolerance Training

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