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Psychiatrists' knowledge, training and attitudes regarding the care of individuals with intellectual disability


Dr Shirli Werner, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel (e-mail:


Background  Psychiatrists are responsible for providing proper care for people with intellectual disability who have psychiatric disorders. This study examined psychiatrists' perceptions of their own training, knowledge and therapeutic skills, as well as their attitudes towards this population.

Methods  Questionnaires were distributed to 679 psychiatrists working within the public sector in Israel.

Results  Completed questionnaires were returned from 256 psychiatrists (38% response rate). Most (90%) participants reported having had limited training in the diagnosis and treatment of people with intellectual disabilities, while between 34% and 72% reported having inadequate knowledge in specific areas.

Conclusion  The findings of limited training and self-perceived inadequate knowledge are at least partially explained by the service model, wherein people with intellectual disabilities are cared for by general mental health services. The identified inadequacies could be overcome through the implementation of a model in which specially trained psychiatrists are deployed within generic services.

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