Role expectations, health policies, and flexibility important when introducing a new health promotion program

Elinor Sundblom, PhD
Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Solna, Sweden

Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and weight disturbances are more common among people with intellectual disabilities (ID) than among the general population. Caregivers in community residences can have a strong influence on health behaviors among residents with ID. More knowledge is therefore needed on how to support caregiver healthy work routines.

What did you do in your research?
We interviewed staff and managers taking part in a health program in 30 community residences in Stockholm County, Sweden. We asked what worked well and what did not.

What did you find out?
We found that motivation to participate among the residents was very important, but so was motivation among the caregivers and the managers. A meaningful and a flexible program content was mentioned as important. It was also highlighted that when implementing this kind of program everyone must be informed well ahead in order to have time to prepare. It also seemed important to have a policy for health promotion initiatives for adults with ID.

What are the take-home messages?
It is important to support motivation for change among residents, staff and managers and to prepare the staff well and inform about their role in the program.

To learn more about these findings contact Elinor Sundblom and visit the Project Webpage (in Swedish). Additionally, for further information around the intervention (evaluated in this study) please see:
Bergström , H., Hagströmer, M., Hagberg, J., & Elinder, L.S. (2013). A multi-component universal intervention to improve diet and physical activity among adults with intellectual disabilities in community residences: A cluster randomised controlled trial.Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(11), 3847-3857. 

Full Journal Article
Sundblom, E., Bergström, H., & Ellinder, L. S. (2015). Understanding the implementation process of a multi-component health promotion intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities in Sweden. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 28(4), 296–306.