Nurses learn from teaching health education to people with I/DD

By Ginny Focht-New, PhD
Widener University

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) experience complex physical and mental health conditions. However many individuals with I/DD do not receive adequate health education or have access to resources to learn about their disability or health condition. There is a need to understand how to teach and provide health education to people with I/DD.

What did you do in your research?
Registered nurses were interviewed individually and then later as a part of focus groups. The goal was to understand their experiences of providing health education to adults with I/DD. Nurses were also observed in the process of teaching health education to adults with I/DD. Nurses were asked to describe their experiences of teaching and their interactions with adults with I/DD.

What did you find out?
Nurses initially lacked confidence and were doubtful about the benefit of teaching adults with I/DD. However, throughout the teaching process, the nurses’ attitudes transformed to becoming passionate educators. Nurses developed new understanding, knowledge, and teaching practices, and their teaching philosophy evolved.

What are the take-home messages?
People with a wide range of I/DD learned about their bodies, and a variety of physical and mental health conditions. Successful learning occurred once the nurses believed that the adults could learn. Nurses described being both teachers and learners in the process.

To learn more about these findings contact Ginny Focht-New.

Full Journal Article
Focht-New, G. (2012). Transformation Through Health Teaching for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Qualitative Study. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50(2), 129–139.