Study finds unexpectedly moderate or high self-esteem in men with learning disabilities in forensic service

man at fence

Self-esteem is a concept well used in psychology to describe how a person evaluates their own worth and can be viewed positively and negatively.

In this quantitative study, the researcher was interested in how prevalent low self-esteem was in a population of people with learning disabilities in a forensic service. She used an adapted version of the Rosenberg Self Esteem scale where statements relating to self esteem are answered on a four point scale – from strongly agree to strongly disagree and the adapted Evaluative Beliefs Scale which measures negative person evaluations

She also considered the differences that might be found between those in the low and medium secure parts of the service, any influence exerted by the types of offences and the possible effects of disrupted childhood attachments. She worked with 49 men with mild to borderline learning disabilities collecting data in research interviews which used the two scales to measure self-esteem followed by a search of routinely recorded clinical information on the hospital computer system.

What she found was that the majority of the men scored as having moderate or high self-esteem on both the self-esteem measures which the authors were not expecting. In addition, she found a statistically significant positive correlation between the two scales. 64% of the study population had committed either sexual offences or fire setting offences. Those with disrupted attachments had slightly higher self-esteem than those who had not experienced disrupted attachments.

The author concludes from that the personal concept of self esteem is complex, with many influencing factors. She suggests that cognitive behaviour therapy may have a specific role in realising and overcoming negative core beliefs and feelings of low self-worth.

The prevalence of low self-esteem in an intellectually disabled forensic population, Johnson, P. in Journal of Intellectual Disability  Research, 56: 317–325

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of John Northfield

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.

More posts

Follow me here –