Health Knowledge Training Promotes Health Self-Advocacy and Better Health in Persons with ID

Maurice Feldman, PhD
Brock University, Canada

Persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience a wide range of health problems. There are not many studies about programs to teach persons with ID about their body and health. When a person knows about their body and health, they can stand up and advocate for their own health care.

What did you do in your research?
We divided volunteer adults with ID into two groups. One group, the training group (with 12 persons) received weekly classes in health knowledge. The second group, called the control group, did not receive any training in health knowledge until the first group was finished. The training was in small groups (3-4 persons with ID, along with 1-2 trainers). Using a game and lots of visuals, the health knowledge training involved learning about body parts and systems including how the body works and how things can go wrong.

What did you find out?
We found out that the training group increased their health knowledge, but the control group did not. The training group members also said they liked the training.

What are the take-home messages?
Persons with ID can learn about their body and health through small group instruction. They could then use this information to keep healthy and understand what is happening when they get ill and be in a better position to take more control of their health care. Ultimately, by acquiring health literacy, individuals with ID may experience increased personal control over their health and medical decisions.

To learn more about these findings contact Maurice Feldman.

To order our health self-advocacy manual (citation below) which includes training materials and instructions, please contact
Theresa Terreberry. Andrews A., Bishop C., Agnew S., Hamelin J., Griffiths D., Owen F. & Feldman M. (2010). Teaching health self-advocacy skills to adults with intellectual disabilities. Community Living Welland Pelham, Welland, ON, Canada.

Full Journal Article
Feldman, M. A., Owen, F., Andrews, A. E., Tahir, M., Barber, R., & Griffiths, D. (2015). Randomized control trial of the 3Rs health knowledge training program for persons with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.