University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Early online date19 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2017



Despite experiencing health inequalities, people with intellectual disabilities are under-represented in health research. Previous research has identified barriers but has typically focused on under-recruitment to specific studies. This study aimed to explore care staff's attitudes to health research involving people with intellectual disabilities, identify barriers to conducting such research and consider solutions to those barriers.

Materials and Methods

Eight members of care sector staff took part in a focus group or telephone interview, to explore their views on health research involving people with intellectual disabilities. The transcriptions were analysed using thematic analysis; 50% were double-coded, and the emerging themes were agreed by three researchers.


Three themes were identified: perceptions of research; barriers to conducting research; solutions to maximise recruitment and project success. Benefits to research were identified, but there were concerns that the time and effort required may outweigh these benefits. Barriers were identified including organisational policy and following the Mental Capacity Act 2005. There was some indication that such barriers may differ according to the severity of intellectual disabilities and the type of care setting. Solutions were proposed that involved greater collaboration between researchers and the care sector, and a more flexible approach to research.


Care staff are largely supportive of research that is appropriate and relevant to their service users. However, there is a need for clear communication from researchers and flexible recruitment and data collection strategies. This is likely to be facilitated by closer collaboration between researchers and the social care sector.


© 2017 The Authors. British Journal of Learning Disabilities published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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