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Keywords:

  • intellectual disability;
  • mental health;
  • methodology in research;
  • psychiatric disorders

Abstract

Background

Several cross-sectional studies have shown an association between exposure to life events and psychological problems in adults with intellectual disability (ID). To establish life events as a risk factor, prospective designs are needed.

Methods

Support staff informants provided data on the psychological problems of 68 adults with ID and their recent exposure to life events. Using data collected on the same sample 3.5 to 4 years earlier, prospective analysis of the relationships between life events exposure and psychological problems over time was explored.

Results

Hierarchical linear regression analyses demonstrated a contribution of life events to the prediction of later psychological problems after controlling for earlier psychological problems. Exploratory analyses showed that the relationship between life events and psychological problems might be unidirectional, and non-spurious; remaining present once the impact of other correlates of psychological problems was controlled.

Conclusions

These data offer support for the status of life events (with a negative valence) as a risk factor for psychological problems in adults with ID. To establish life events as a causal risk factor, research is needed to examine the mechanisms via which life events have their impact on psychological well-being.