Access to Secondary Healthcare for People with Intellectual Disabilities: A Review of the Literature



Background  There is growing evidence that people with intellectual disabilities have greater healthcare needs than the general population and that these needs are often unmet. Recently, increasing attention has been drawn to poor care received by people with intellectual disabilities when admitted to hospital.

Method  A literature search was conducted to identify studies on experiences of secondary healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities. Studies were published between January 1990 and March 2008.

Results  Thirteen studies were identified. Important influences on the experience of hospital care were: individual factors; the carer’s role; the attitudes, knowledge and communicative style of health staff; and the physical environment. A range of recommendations and initiatives have been developed to improve hospital care.

Conclusion  More research is needed, given that so few studies are published in this area. Initiatives to improve access to secondary healthcare need to be evaluated to inform the development of services.