Staff attitudes to reproductive health of women with learning disabilities suggests need for further training


Whilst there is a developing literature relating to attitudes to sexuality in people with learning disabilities, there is very little in the published literature about their reproductive health. The researchers in this study set out to look at the attitudes of caregivers and to look in more detail at what things determine gynaecological health in women with learning disabilities.

The researchers recruited 1152 caregivers and asked them to complete a self administered structured questionnaire.  The questionnaire was divided into 4 domains: menstruation, menopause, sex education, and preventive healthcare, each having 5 issues that participants responded to by  scoring on a scale of 1-4, according to their level of agreement with the issue.

The results suggested that the following factors were significantly correlated with the attitudinal scores relating to gynaecological health; “workplace training in reproductive health”; “felt satisfied with public reproductive health services for the client” and “scores of reproductive health knowledge”

Whilst only an initial investigation of attitudes, the authors are able to suggest that their findings point to a need for policy initiatives to provide workplace training in reproductive health in public reproductive health services and for training for support staff in the issue to improve their knowledge and understanding.

Caregiver attitudes to gynaecological health of women with intellectual disability, Lan-Ping Lin et al., in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,. 36,. 3, 149-155


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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