Background: The transition of people with intellectual disability (ID) from care institutions to the community - according to Western policy - results in a shift of responsibility towards primary health care services. In order to provide optimal care to people with ID living in the community, general practitioners need to be aware of the specific health problems of this patient category. The aim of this paper is to present an overview of recent studies on the specific health problems of people with ID, in particular on health problems of people with ID in the community, compared to those of the general population.
Method: To reliably compare health problems of individuals with and without ID, this review is limited to comparative research using a control group of individuals without ID. The focus of the review concentrates on international literature, published between 1995 and 2002.
Results: Most comparative research among people with ID presents higher prevalence rates for epilepsy, diseases of the skin, sensory loss and (increased risk of) fractures. These health problems are specific for people with ID, both in general and living in the community in particular.
Conclusions: there are only few studies focusing on health problems in people with ID in which a control group of individuals without ID is included. Most comparative studies on health problems in people with ID are based on comparison with reported prevalence rates of general health surveys.