Need for Better Health Management for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have highlighted the need for more effective chronic disease self-management programmes for people with intellectual disabilities.

In a paper published in the Journal of Nursing & Healthcare of Chronic Illness online, Dr Patricia Wilson and Professor Claire Goodman at the University’s Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care recommended that chronic disease self-management programmes across England be modified so that they can help people with intellectual disabilities to manage their chronic disease and access health care.

The researchers used a multiple case study design to evaluate four Expert Patients Programme Community Interest Company (EPP CIC) chronic disease self-management programmes across England. They found that modified versions of these programmes were accessible for people with moderate intellectual disabilities and can influence their disease self-management behaviours, but that these programmes needed to be modified further to be accessible to wider participants. They also found that the programmes which have now been modified by EPP CIC could be particularly effective when integrated with other measures such as exercise classes.

“People with intellectual disabilities are four times more likely to have a chronic disease than the rest of the population, have a shorter life expectancy and experience persistent problems in accessing health services.” said Dr Wilson. “A chronic disease self-management programme modified for people with intellectual disabilities can help this population to manage their chronic disease and access health care.”