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Nurses' role in caring for people with a comorbidity of mental illness and intellectual disability: A literature review


Chris Taua, School of Nursing and Human Services, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, PO Box 540, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. Email:


This article examines literature on the role of the nurse caring for people with a dual disability (DD) of intellectual disability and mental illness. A search of the literature between 2000 and 2010 resulted in a total of 21 articles that met the inclusion criteria. Seven key categories of the role of the nurse were identified: (i) advocacy/health promotion (including working with family); (ii) assessment/case management; (iii) behavioural interventions; (iv) communication; (v) leadership and the nurse's role within the multidisciplinary team; (vi) functions regarding medication administration; and (vii) safety/risk management. There is a paucity of research about the role of nurses working with people with DD, although a number of opinion-based articles exist. This article identifies a need for the role of the nurse working in DD to be more clearly articulated and for the development of evidence to guide best practice.