Supporting primary healthcare professionals to care for people with intellectual disability: a research agenda

J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2015 Jan;28(1):33-42. doi: 10.1111/jar.12132.


Background: The vast health inequities experienced by people with intellectual disability remain indisputable. Persistent and contemporary challenges exist for primary healthcare providers and researchers working to contribute to improvements to the health and well-being of people with intellectual disability. Over two decades after the only review of supports for primary healthcare providers was published, this paper contributes to an evolving research agenda that aims to make meaningful gains in health-related outcomes for this group.

Methods: The present authors updated the existing review by searching the international literature for developments and evaluations of multinational models of care.

Results: Based on our review, we present three strategies to support primary healthcare providers: (i) effectively using what we know, (ii) considering other strategies that offer support to primary healthcare professionals and (iii) researching primary health care at the system level.

Conclusions: Strengthening primary care by supporting equitable provision of health-related care for people with intellectual disability is a much needed step towards improving health outcomes among people with intellectual disability. More descriptive quantitative and qualitative research, as well as intervention-based research underpinned by rigorous mixed-methods evaluating these strategies at the primary care level, which is sensitive to the needs of people with intellectual disability will assist primary care providers to provide better care and achieve better health outcomes.

Accessible abstract: Many people with intellectual disability have poor health. The authors reviewed what has been written by other researchers about how to improve the health of people with intellectual disability. In the future, people who support adults with intellectual disability should continue doing what they do well, think of other ways to improve health, and do more research about health. At all times, the needs of people with intellectual disability should be the greatest concern for those trying to support them.

Keywords: health assessments; inequality; intellectual disability; primary care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Qualitative Research*