Trauma experiences of people with an intellectual disability and their implications: A scoping review

Patrick McNally, Laurence Taggart, M Shevlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
189 Downloads (Pure)


Background: People with an intellectual disability are more vulnerable to psychological trauma compared with the general population. The aim of this scoping review was to identify the current status of the literature on trauma that is specific to the experiences of adults with an intellectual disability, living in community settings. Methods: A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O'Malley (International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2005, 8, 19) framework. Forty-one international papers were reviewed spanning 2000–2020, and their quality assessed using the MMAT. Findings: (1) Aggressive behaviours can be symptoms of trauma, (2) there are appropriate assessment tools for the impact of trauma, (3) evidence-based interventions for trauma may be effective, and (4) factors associated with disability can be experienced as traumatic. Conclusion: There is a growing body of literature highlighting assessment needs and potential interventions for people with an intellectual disability who have experienced psychological trauma. Further research is needed to develop trauma-informed pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-949
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Early online date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Kelly McCoo for her assistance in development and completion of the search strategy for this review. Thanks also go to Peter Mulhall for his assistance in providing a database for independent review of the articles by the authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • intellectual disability
  • trauma
  • trauma informed care
  • trauma intervention
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education
  • PTSD
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • trauma-informed care
  • Psychological Trauma
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Disabled Persons
  • informed care
  • traumatic stress disorder


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