Health issues for adults with developmental disability

Res Dev Disabil. Nov-Dec 2002;23(6):422-45. doi: 10.1016/s0891-4222(02)00143-9.


The aim of this paper is to review recent literature on health issues for adults with developmental disability and reflect on how this research informs service provision, future research work, and social and health policy. Studies based on mortality data are most likely to aim at identifying individuals most at risk of premature death, and some researchers argue that health-oriented service systems appear ill-equipped to address the needs of the at risk groups. Morbidity studies highlight specific health concerns found in this population and commonly report high rates of untreated, yet treatable, conditions. The emerging literature on the behavioral determinants of health suggests risk of preventable morbidity and mortality because of the lack of health-promoting behaviors, particularly in relation to diet and physical activity. Of particular interest in this literature is the affect of living arrangements on health promoting activities. This paper concludes that future directions in health research for adults with developmental disability will be concerned with the complexity of the interactions between biology, pathology, and behavioral and environmental determinants. More use of self-reported health studies is suggested, as well as further exploration of effective strategies of health promotion and health promoting decision-making and self-determination among this population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / mortality
  • Personal Autonomy