Recent reports on the response of the NHS in England to the health needs of people with learning disabilites have uncovered poor practice and a lack of knowledge and skills (see for example Mencap Getting it Right campaign)
We posted earlier in the week about the impact of liaison nursing, one response of the health system, but as patient advocacy can be a a driver of change, there is also a need to consider how people with learning disabilities can increase their health self-advocacy skills, and the researchers in this study set out to test how far this may be possible.
Using a randomised control design with a 6-month follow-up they evaluated the 3Rs (Rights, Respect and Responsibility) health self-advocacy training programme which was delivered to 31 people with learning disabilities.
The training involved teaching participants to recognise and redress health rights violations in the context of respect and responsibility. The training involved the use of presentation slides and interactive video scenarios which showed health rights, respect and responsibility problem and non-problems. People attended two -hour training sessions twice a week. The participants worked in a group playing games and answering questions.
What they found was that the group who received the health rights training were able to answer significantly more questions correctly on post training and follow-up tests than those who were in the control group who had not received any training intervention at all.
The researchers also found that these training effects generalised to scenarios that were not involved in the training presentation.
They conclude that people with learning disabilities can learn complex skills related to health self-advocacy, although they suggest the need for more research to improve generalisation outcomes in real life healthcare situations.
Health self-advocacy training for persons with intellectual disabilities, Feldman M et al., in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56: 1110–1121.