Census 2011: People with learning disabilities
Health of people with learning disabilities in Scotland - a total population study
At the level of the whole population, little is known about the characteristics and health status of people with learning disabilities living in Scotland.
The aim of this study was to analyse and compare (1) reported general health status; (2) reported mental health conditions; and (3) other reported disabilities for people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Data were drawn from Scotland’s 2011 Census. Descriptive statistics were generated about people with and without intellectual disabilities. Age and gender differences in general health, mental health and other disabilities were analysed.
We identified 26,349 (0.5%) people with intellectual disabilities from the total Scottish population (n=5,295,403). 15,149 (57.5%) were males and 11,200 females (42.5%). 5,234 were children (0-15 years), and 21,115 (16-85+ years) adults. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities reported poorer health (47.9% and 40.3%), compared to children and adults in the general population (2.1% and 13.8%). More mental health problems and other disabilities were reported by people with intellectual disabilities across all ages.
People with intellectual disabilities rated their health less favourably than the general population at all ages. This result corresponds with previous research, suggesting self-rated health is an effective measure of health inequalities in the population of people with intellectual disabilities. This work is still in progress; subsequent analyses will explore the extent to which individual and household characteristics impact on health of people with learning disabilities.
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Posters and an infographic on this project can be viewed below.
Prevalence and general health status of people with learning disabilities in Scotland -a total population study
Prevalence of learning disabilities varies considerably between studies. People with learning disabilities experience health inequalities, but most studies comprise small or incomplete populations. We investigated in a whole country population (1) prevalence of learning disabilities, and age of identification, (2) general health status compared with the general population.
Data were from Scotland’s Census, 2011. We calculated the prevalence of learning disabilities by age; reported general health status of people with and without learning disabilities; and the extent of health-related limitations to daily activities. We conducted logistic regressions to determine the odds ratios of learning disabilities predicting poor general health, and the associations with age and gender.
26,349/5,295,403 (0.5%) had learning disabilities; 15,149 (57.5%) males and 11,200 (42.5%) females; 5,234 (0.6%) children (0-15), and 21,115 (0.5%) adults (16-75+). Identification of learning disabilities rises until age 5 years, with a further small rise by age 9. Children and adults with learning disabilities reported poorer general health (47.9% and 40.3%), than the general population (2.1% and 13.8%), and were more limited in activities by their health. Learning disabilities had an odds ratio of 9.2 (95% CI: 8.9-9.4) in predicting poor general health. Within the learning disabilities population, it is not until after age 45 that the health-related effects of ageing outweigh the health-related effects of the most severe learning disabilities.
People with learning disabilities have poorer general health than other people, especially children and young people. Accurate information on population prevalence and health status is essential to plan appropriate resources.
Prevalence of mental health conditions and relationship with general health in a whole country population of 26,349 people with learning disabilities, compared with the general population.
There are no previous whole-country studies on mental health and its relationships with general health in learning disabilities populations; other study results vary. This study aimed to determine (1) the prevalence of mental health conditions and, (2) relationships with general health in a total population with and without learning disabilities.
We extracted data from Scotland’s Census, 2011 (94% completion rate), on learning disabilities, mental health, and general health. We calculated, for people with and without learning disabilities, the prevalence of mental health conditions. We conducted logistic regressions to determine the odds ratios of learning disabilities predicting poor mental health, and, within the learning disabilities population, the associations of poor mental health with general health status, adjusted for age and gender.
26,349/5,295,403 (0.5%) had learning disabilities, of whom 12.8% children, 23.4% adults, 27.2% older adults had mental health conditions compared with 0.3%, 5.3%, 4.5% general population. Learning disabilities predicted mental health conditions: OR=7.1 (95% CI 6.8-7.3). General health was substantially poorer, and associated with mental health conditions: fair health OR=1.8 (95% CI 1.7-1.9), bad/very bad health OR=4.2 (95% CI 3.9-4.6). Female gender reduced the likelihood of mental health conditions: OR=0.89 (95% CI 0.89-0.95); and increase in age group up to 64 years predicted mental health conditions, thereafter the odds ratios plateaued
This large-scale, whole-country study findings are important, given the previously stated lack of confidence in comparative prevalence results with the general population, and the need to plan services accordingly.