Health knowledge and the impact of social exclusion on young people with intellectual disabilities

Research paper by Jaycee Pownall, Sarah Wilson, Andrew Jahoda

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 24 Jan '17Published in: Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities


Cognitive impairments are often assumed to underlie individuals’ difficulties with understanding health issues. However, it was predicted that socially excluded individuals would have greater difficulty gaining understanding of sensitive topics related to sexuality than other public health messages, such as alcohol use.The health knowledge of 31 typically developing young people, 29 young people with mild intellectual disabilities (ID) and 23 participants with physical disabilities but no cognitive impairments was compared.The largest group differences were related to more private and personal health issues, such as pregnancy/contraception. Both groups of young people with disabilities had less knowledge of pregnancy/contraception than their non-disabled peers. Thus, deficits in this sexual knowledge did not just appear to be the result of cognitive deficits.The findings suggest social exclusion may contribute to young people with intellectual disabilities’ poorer knowledge of pregnancy and contraception. The results have implications for interventions.