Self-report tool shows women with learning disabilities identify higher levels of symptoms relating to mood and self esteem

person looking sad

Evidence suggests there is a greater prevalence of mental ill-health in people with learning disabilities, although the extent of this difference varies from study to study. At present there has been little work enabling people with learning disabilities to recognise potential threats to their mental health and to help with the development of strategies to minimise these. Researchers at the Estia Centre however, have now been working on a guided self-help pack to be known as SAINT – Self Assessment and INTervention pack


In this study, as part of the development of this pack, the researchers were interested in looking specifically at differences in how symptoms relating to depression and anxiety were reported by males and females.

What they did was use three self report questionnaires -the Glasgow Depression Scale – Learning Disabilities (GDS-LD, the Glasgow Anxiety Scale – Intellectual Disabilities (GAS-ID) and Self-Assessment Intervention Package (SAINT). Each of these was administered to 36 people with mild learning disabilities which enabled them to compare symptom reporting between genders.


What they found was there were statistically significant differences in self-reported symptoms between males and females when they used the SAINT. The symptoms were related mainly to mood and self-esteem.

Self-reported depressive symptoms were between 2.7-3.2 times higher in female than male patients.


They conclude that this evidence suggests that the SAINT is a valid tool for screening and self-reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with learning disabilities.


Estia Centre for mental health in learning disabilities –

Gender differences in self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults with intellectual disabilities, Chester R et al., in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 7,4, 191 – 200

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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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