Staffs’ knowledge and perceptions of working with women with intellectual disabilities and psychiatric disorders

Laurence Taggart, Roni Millan, Annette Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing evidence of the physicaland mental health inequalities in people with intellectualdisability (ID) although less has beenwritten concerning the mental health of womenwith ID (International Association for the ScientificStudy of Intellectual Disabilities). This is comparedwith the substantive literature published withinmainstream psychiatry on gender.The aim of thisstudy was to explore a range of health and socialcare staffs’ knowledge and perceptions of caring forwomen with ID who have mental health problemsfocusing upon risk and resilient/protective factors.Method A qualitative methodology was used. Eightfocus groups were conducted with hospital, communityand residential staff across one region of theUK. The focus groups were audiotaped and thetranscriptions were subjected to a thematic contentanalysis using Newell & Burnard’s framework.Findings Six inter-related risk factors were identifiedby the participants as potential causes for thewomen with ID to develop a mental illness andthese were: having an ID and being female, unmetexpectations, dysfunctional family upbringing,unstable relationships/loss of children, domestic violenceand negative life experiences. Few of the participantsacknowledged hormonal issues as a riskfactor. Resilient/protective factors included beingproactive, greater community participation, earlyrecognition and mental health maintenance.Conclusion These results are discussed in light ofcurrent developments and policy within mainstreampsychiatric gender approaches. Greater recognitionof a proactive health approach for both staff andwomen with an ID is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-100
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jan 2010


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