Prevalence of mental health conditions, sensory impairments and physical disability in people with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism compared with other people: A cross-sectional total population study in Scotland

Kirsty Dunn*, Ewelina Rydzewska, Michael Fleming, Sally-ann Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives To investigate prevalence of mental health conditions, sensory impairments and physical disability in children, adults and older adults with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism, given its frequent co-occurrence, compared with the general population.

Design Whole country cohort study.

Setting General community.

Participants 5709 people with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism, compared with 5 289 694 other people.

Outcome measures Rates and ORs with 95% CIs for mental health conditions, visual impairment, hearing impairment and physical disability in people with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism compared with other people, adjusted for age, sex and interaction between age and co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism.

Results All four long-term conditions were markedly more common in children, adults and older adults with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism compared with other people. For mental health, OR=130.8 (95% CI 117.1 to 146.1); visual impairment OR=65.9 (95% CI 58.7 to 73.9); hearing impairment OR=22.0 (95% CI 19.2 to 25.2); and physical disability OR=157.5 (95% CI 144.6 to 171.7). These ratios are also greater than previously reported for people with either intellectual disabilities or autism rather than co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism.

Conclusions We have quantified the more than double disadvantage for people with co-occurring intellectual disabilities and autism, in terms of additional long-term health conditions. This may well impact on quality of life. It raises challenges for staff working with these people in view of additional complexity in assessments, diagnoses and interventions of additional health conditions, as sensory impairments and mental health conditions in particular, compound with the persons pre-existing communication and cognitive problems in this context. Planning is important, with staff being trained, equipped, resourced and prepared to address the challenge of working for people with these conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere035280
JournalBMJ Open
Volume10
Issue number4
Early online date26 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2020

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