Experiences of adults with intellectual disabilities accessing acute hospital services: A systematic review of the international evidence.

Freda Mc Cormick, lynn Marsh, Laurence Taggart, Michael Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Adults with intellectual disabilities experience significant physical and mental health needs when compared to their typically developing peers. Previous research evidences that many people with intellectual disabilities have negative encounters within acute hospitals. The aim of this systematic review was to identify the specific views and experiences of adults with intellectual disabilities when accessing acute hospital services arising from the available literature. The review commenced in June 2019 and was updated in May 2020. A systematic search of five electronic databases including CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE, Web of Science, SCOPUS and PsycINFO was undertaken. Studies published from 2014, peer-reviewed, written in English and referred to adults with intellectual disabilities aged 18 plus and acute hospital settings were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme quality assurance checklist were used to review all selected papers. Five studies from a total of 421 were deemed suitable for inclusion in the review as the voices of adults with intellectual disabilities were present. Poor communication from healthcare staff towards adults with intellectual disabilities emerged in four studies while the use of the hospital passport and the intellectual disability liaison nurse to significantly improve the hospital experience for adults with intellectual disabilities was identified in two of the studies. Following a systematic and thematic analysis of the studies, three main overarching themes emerged: communication; information sharing; and compassion and respect. Despite the national and international focus on improving healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities, this review highlights lack of communication, inadequate information sharing and issues related to compassionate care and respect. The review identifies the possibility that an increased use of hospital passports and an extension of the intellectual disability liaison nursing roles may enhance the hospital experience for people with intellectual disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1222-1232
Number of pages11
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • adult
  • experience
  • hospital
  • intellectual disability
  • learning disability


Dive into the research topics of 'Experiences of adults with intellectual disabilities accessing acute hospital services: A systematic review of the international evidence.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this