Queensland psychiatrists' attitudes and perceptions of adults with intellectual disability

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2007 Jan;51(Pt 1):75-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2006.00870.x.


Background: Quality mental health care for adults with an intellectual disability (ID) depends upon the availability of appropriately trained and experienced psychiatrists. There have been few surveys of psychiatrists working with this population.

Method: This Australian study obtained psychiatrists' attitudes to and perceptions of the mental health needs of adults with an ID. Training needs were also sought. The survey instrument used was a purposely designed, 28-item self-administered questionnaire featuring multiple-choice and open-ended questions.

Results: The majority of psychiatrists expressed concerns about treatment of this group, describing unmet needs. A total of 75% considered that antipsychotics were overused to control aggression, and 34% of psychiatrists were reluctant to treat adults with an ID. In total, 85% agreed that mental health in ID should be offered as a training option for psychiatric registrars, and that specialized mental health services would provide a high standard of care for this population.

Conclusion: Broad concerns are raised regarding pathways to mental health care for adults with an ID in Australia. An Australia-wide training strategy needs to be developed. Partnerships between mental health, disability and community services that serve the mental health needs of this population, should actively seek to engage psychiatrists.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Psychiatry* / education
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Queensland
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Specialization
  • Surveys and Questionnaires