Attitudes held by professionals towards the empowerment of people with learning disabilities can impact enormously on the nature of the support they receive. There is a big literature on the impact of attitudes held by medical professional s on access to and quality of healthcare for example. This issue was key to the pace of introduction of direct payments in the late 1990s, and continues to be at the heart of the development of self directed support.
The researchers in this study were keen to test the impact of a training video on the impact of direct support professionals. They used a scale known as the Community Living Attitude Scale (CLAS–MR) to measure attitudes.
They split 43 support professionals randomly into two groups. They showed a positive and constructive training video on empowerment to one group and then asked them to complete the scale. They asked the control group to compllete the scale without watching the video.
They found that the people who had watched the video had “significantly more empowering attitudes towards individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities compared to the control group.
There is a problem of course that the researchers did not have baseline information on all subjects before using the video, so it may be that with such a small sample the random assigning allowed for those with the most positive attitudes to arrive in the intervention group. In addition, the scale was completed soon after the intervention, with no longer term follow up.
However, the study does seem to support other findings suggesting the positive impact of training directly by, or developed by people with disabilities themselves on promoting positive attitudes to empowerment.
Empowerment training and direct support professionals’ attitudes about individuals with intellectual disabilities, Flatt-Fultz E et al., in Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 16: 119-125,