Deprivation may not contribute to health inequality in people with learning disabilities in the same way as in the general population.


This cross-sectional study used interviews with over 1000 adults with learning disabilities within a defined location along with a review of their medical records. Area deprivation was defined by postcode, using Carstairs scores.

The authors found that area deprivation had no influence on access to social supports, daytime primary health-care services or hospital admissions. However, they found that people in more deprived areas made less use of secondary outpatient health care and more use of accident and emergency.

Interestingly, they also found that women living in more deprived areas were in fact more likely to have had a cervical smear.

The authors concluded that deprivation may not therefore contribute to health inequality in populations of people with learning disabilities in the same way as it does in the general population.

Neighbourhood deprivation, health inequalities and service access by adults with intellectual disabilities: a cross-sectional study, Cooper, S et al., in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 313–323.

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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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