Intended for healthcare professionals


People with intellectual disabilities

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 19 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:414

The Missing Patient Population

Having lived in a small, residential community for people with
intellectual disabilities from age 3 until after graduating from high
school, I was keen to learn the intricacies and differences of dealing
with this patient population from a healthcare perspective when I attended
physician assistant school. Alas, not one lecture addressed how to
provide responsible healthcare to patients with intellectual disabilities.
I was told to treat these patients just as I would any patients. However,
just the history taking can be drastically different and challenging and
may be compounded by the frequent sexual, physical, and emotional abuse to
which these patients are subjected. As mentioned in the article, many
aspects of providing healthcare to this population are drastically
different and complex. And healthcare providers will definitely be
exposed to this patient population. There was a significant gap in my
education as this important patient population was completely absent.

Competing interests:
Reared in Camphill Village, Copake, NY (residential community for people with intellectual disabilities)

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 September 2004
Trudy A. Bearden
Physician Assistant
Yale-New Haven Hospital 06510