People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at increased risk for poor health outcomes and health disparities. The lack of health care provider training on disability has been highlighted in recent literature as a key, modifiable determinant of the health disparities experienced by people with ID.
Despite national calls for didactic and clinical interventions aimed at improving health care provider competency in treating people with ID, most health care providers receive little training during medical school in the health care of patients with ID. Additionally, mainstream clinical guidelines do not address the unique concerns of patients with ID. As a result, patients with ID are not included in mainstream health care delivery organizations and practices.
Through inclusive health education, we can improve physicians’ exposure to patients with intellectual disability during medical training, an essential step towards providing quality care for people with intellectual disability.
Advocate for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in health care delivery in your field
Seek out continuing education on disability and health topics, including communication strategies
Obtain experience with patients with intellectual disabilities, both in clinical and non-clinical settings
Advocate for curriculum changes in academic training programs to include training on serving patients with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities throughout the lifespan
Partner with disability organizations to learn more about the respectful inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in health care services and in training programs
Encourage professional associations to adopt resolutions or policy statements endorsing the importance of addressing health disparities experienced by children and adults with intellectual disabilities
Advocate for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities as a population of focus within your professional organization
Advocate for the medically underserved population designation for people with intellectual disabilities
Advocate for appropriate reimbursement to reflect the requisite additional time and skills needed to provide quality health care to people with intellectual disabilities
Talk to other health care providers about the importance of inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities