Creating inclusive health systems for people with intellectual disabilities: An international study

ROY MCCONKEY, Laurence Taggart, Lindsay DuBois2, Amy Shellard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Creating equitable access to mainstream health and healthcare service has been promoted as a means of addressing the health disparities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities (ID) globally. Specific Aims: This study addressed two questions: What strategic actions are most likely to bring about inclusive primary, secondary and tertiary health systems for people ID? What are the system indicators that can be used to evidence a reduction in health disparities for this population? Method: A four-phase study was undertaken involving an international expert advisory group, literature reviews and individual interviews with 16 key informants from Special Olympics (SO). These led to an online international survey in which 61 respondents rated the relevance and feasibility of 30 strategic actions and system indicators to promote inclusive systems and reduce health disparities. Findings: All the strategic actions and system indicators were endorsed as relevant but less so for the feasibility of implementing them. Top-rated strategic actions included the availability of policy statements and practice guidelines on making reasonable adjustments, mandatory training of health professionals on ID and their involvement as co-trainers in staff training. Discussion: Implementing these strategic actions and system indicators will be a major undertaking and one that is unlikely to be speedily achieved given the many different policy and health systems that exist even within a locality as well as nationally and internationally. Nonetheless the identified actions and indicators from this study can form the basis for improved access to health and for advancing the human rights of persons with ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282 - 290
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Early online date12 May 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was based on an evaluation commissioned by Special Olympics Inc. as part of their global Healthy Communities Initiative. Special Olympics Health is made possible by the Golisano Foundation. We are grateful to members of the Advisory Board for their advice and guidance: Alixe Bonardi (United States); Professor Eric Emerson (United Kingdom/Australia); Dr. Matt Holder (United States); Professor Theresa Lorenzo (South Africa); Professor Philip McCallion (United States); and Sue Swenson (United States/Inclusion International).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • health disparities
  • health indicators
  • inclusive health
  • intellectual disability
  • international


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