Self-injurious behaviour persists for 20 years in over 80% of sample of people with learning disabilities.

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An examination of the quality of life and changes in behaviour for a cohort of 49 people with intellectual disabilities and self injurious behaviour (SIB) over time.  84% of the sample continued to self-injure nearly 20 years on, and whilst a number of people had moved from hospital in the period their SIB had not reduced.

More people were receiving psychological treatment, more were also receiving anticonvulsant and antipsychotic medications. The authors conclude that their findings add to the growing evidence of extreme chronicity for SIB and the relative lack of impact of treatment. They suggest the evidence implies the need for early intervention if SIB is to be eliminated long term.

The Chronicity of Self-Injurious Behaviour: A Long-Term Follow-Up of a Total Population Study, Taylor, L. et al, in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 24: 105–117.

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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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