Review finds no consistent definition of trauma and no reliable means of measuring its effects in people with learning disabilities.

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This systematic review looks at the literature on the effects of adverse life events or trauma on people with intellectual disabilities. The authors point out that there is a limited number of studies in this area and that effects of trauma seen in the general population literature are not necessarily transferable to the intellectual disability population.

Fifteen articles were selected. The authors state that studies lack a consistent definition of trauma and a reliable and valid means of measuring effects of trauma in people with intellectual disabilities. They also point to a lack of studies establishing causal links between life events and trauma.

The Effects of Traumatizing Life Events on People With Intellectual Disabilities: A Systematic Review, Wigham S et al. in Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 4,  1  19 – 39

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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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