WASHID: A survey identifying health inequalities of adults with intellectual disabilities in Western Australia
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Background Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience significant health inequalities and related research has risen in importance. This paper describes the Western Australia Study of Health and Intellectual Disability (WASHID). The study was funded by the WA Disability Services Commission (DSC) and overseen by an Expert Reference Group (ERG) consisting of representatives of the DSC, WA Mental Health Commission, WA advocacy organisations, and researchers from Australia, Ireland, Wales, the UK, and the USA, all of whom are engaged in healthrelated research with this population. Method A literature review of Australian research over the past two decades on the health status of adults with ID identified health inequalities across a range of factors. Drawing on this and the work of the ERG researchers, the authors developed a survey instrument focused on socio-demographic, health status, health determinants, and health services variables. Adults with ID on the DSC service-user database, from WA non-government organisations, and through advertisement were invited to participate. A sample of approximately 400 adults with ID living in WA, accompanied by an appropriate support person, were surveyed by interview in the first quarter of 2013. Senior health sciences students from Curtin University were trained to carry out the interviews.Results The literature review indicated that most Australian research has been cohort based, focusing on specific health issues or specific diagnostic groups. Conclusions The study provides evidence of the need for health promotion and interventions targeted and made accessible for adults with ID and for the need for regular, longitudinal data on the health status of this population.
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