The Health Needs of Adolescents with Intellectual Disabilities in State Care

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Aim: To explore the health needs of young people with ID living in state care in Northern Ireland. Method: The general health and mental health needs of 37 adolescents with ID (aged 10–15 years) were compared with an age-matched sample of young people without ID (n = 128) living in state care. Data were collected from social worker reports and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Results: The young people with ID had a significantly greater prevalence of health difficulties than their non-ID peers and also showed significantly more emotional and behavioural problems. In particular, 77.1% of the young people with ID scored within the abnormal range of the SDQ thereby indicating potential mental health difficulties compared with 49.6% of young people without ID. Conclusion: Young people with ID have additional physical and mental health needs which may not currently be met, or even recognized. They may be subject to ‘diagnostic overshadowing’, may have less effective coping strategies than their non-disabled peers and may be less able to utilize available health services. A greater awareness of the health needs of this vulnerable population is needed so effective health promotion strategies and interventions can be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2010


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