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Long-term conditions management

Systematic review finds that people with learning disabilities were less likely to access health screening and preventive healthcare such as immunisations

Systematic review finds that people with learning disabilities were less likely to access health screening and preventive healthcare such as immunisations


Picture: Neil O’Connor

It is well established that people with learning disabilities experience premature mortality, have more long-term conditions than the general population and are exposed to well-known determinants of health inequalities. Yet their access to primary healthcare can be problematic.

This systematic review of more than 50 studies noted that people were less likely to access and receive health screening and preventive healthcare, such as immunisations, than the general population.

There was good evidence, however, that annual health checks were helpful in identifying otherwise unmet needs and in improving long-term conditions management, although their longer term effect has yet to be evaluated fully.

Barriers to primary care

The review identified barriers to people accessing primary care, engaging with health consultations and ongoing disease management. Methods to improve engagement and health outcomes include:

  • Accessible literature and communication approaches.
  • Being supported in health appointments.
  • Training for administrative and reception staff.
  • Extra time for appointments.
  • Supported decision-making.
  • Familiarity with primary healthcare staff.

It remains clear that the learning disability nurse’s continuing role in overcoming barriers and making personalised reasonable adjustments is important to help people achieve the best possible health outcomes.


Hanlon P, MacDonald S, Wood K et al (2008) Long-term condition management in adults with intellectual disability in primary care: a systematic review. British Journal of General Practice. doi: 10.3399


Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse

 

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