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General practitioners’ perception of their role in care for people with intellectual disability


Correspondence: DrOlive J.Webb IHC New Zealand Inc., PO Box 1729, Christchurch, New Zealand (e-mail:


The present study set out to determine general practitioners’ (GPs’) view of their role in the care of people with intellectual disability who live in the community, and to explore the special issues which providing this care raises for them. A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 250 out of the 698 GPs in the southern region. Twenty statements were presented and participants indicated the extent of their agreement with each statement on a seven-point Likert-type scale. After each scaled response, an open-ended question obtained a written expansion of the numerical response. These qualitative responses were analysed thematically, and combined with descriptive and cluster analyses of quantitative responses to provide a robust assessment of the characteristics of respondents providing contrasting replies. The role of GPs as part of the group of carers for people with intellectual disability was well recognized. Their normal practice routines may not always be adequate because of the small number of patients an individual GP might care of and their lack of explicit training in the special medical needs of such people.