Aim and objectives. To set out the research required to improve the health of people with learning disabilities in general hospital settings. The objectives are: (i) to share service developments in a mapping exercise to provide a picture of current work in this area, and (ii) to identify practice issues and experiences that can contribute to a broader research agenda.
Background. It is recognized that people with learning disabilities are high users of all healthcare systems and have different pattern of health needs that often go unidentified, with some requiring general hospital care. The research evidence base in this area of practice needs to be developed to promote and improve health care.
Method. A facilitated focus group design was employed at a conference event to identify areas for research in the future and determined that action is required on four broad research fronts.
Results. Research is required to establish core principles of care, service developments, practical care measures and influencing change in practice.
Conclusion. Research collaborations need to be established to support activity in this area and requires action in the future.
Relevance to clinical practice. The evidence base and understanding of the high and differing pattern of health needs of people with learning disabilities continues to evolve and develop, with considerable scope to identify new areas for research. A conference approach was used to identify research questions to improve the care of this group in general hospital settings and offers a model that may be helpful in defining new areas of enquiry in the future.