The outcomes of an intervention study to reduce the barriers experienced by people with intellectual disabilities accessing primary health care services.

BACKGROUND: People with intellectual disabilities (IDs) experience significant health inequalities compared with the general population. The barriers people with IDs experience in accessing services contribute to these health inequalities. Professionals’ significant unmet training needs are an important barrier to people with IDs accessing appropriate services to meet their health needs.

METHOD: A three group, pre- and post-intervention design was used to test the hypothesis that a training intervention for primary health care professionals would increase the knowledge and self-efficacy of participants. The intervention had two components – a written training pack and a 3-hour face-to-face training event. One group received the training pack and attended the training event, a second group received the training pack only, and a third group did not participate in the training intervention. Research measures were taken prior to the intervention and 3 months after the intervention. Statistical comparisons were made between the three groups.

RESULTS: The participants in the training intervention reported that it had a positive impact upon their knowledge, skills and clinical practice. As a result of the intervention, 35 (81.4%) respondents agreed that they were more able to meet the needs of their clients with IDs, and 33 (66.6%) reported that they had made changes to their clinical practice. The research demonstrated that the intervention produced a statistically significant increase in the knowledge of participants (F = 5.6, P = 0.005), compared with the group that did not participate in the intervention. The self-efficacy of the participants that received both components of the intervention was significantly greater than the group that did not participate in the training (t = 2.079, P = 0.04). Participation in the two components of the training intervention was associated with significantly greater change in knowledge and self-efficacy than those receiving the training pack alone. CONCLUSION: This intervention was effective in addressing the measured training needs of primary health care professionals. Future research should directly evaluate the positive benefits of interventions on the lives of people with IDs.