New research highlights higher hospitalisation rates in people with intellectual disabilities

A new study has demonstrated how adults with intellectual disabilities (also known as learning disabilities) are more likely to be hospitalised with a respiratory disease than those without.  The King’s Health Partners study – led by researchers from the Behavioural and Developmental Psychiatry Clinical Academic Group (CAG) at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) – also shows that health outcomes for this group of patients are worse than patients with respiratory disease who do not have intellectual disabilities.

Researchers used data from the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system to anonymously identify people with intellectual disabilities accessing services at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.   Respiratory disease was chosen as a focus for the research because it is reported to be one of the leading causes of premature mortality in this population.  

The results show that adults with intellectual disabilities known to secondary care mental health services are three to four times more likely to be admitted into hospital for respiratory disease, will spend more than two days longer in hospital as a direct result of their intellectual disability, and be more likely to be re-admitted for respiratory problems once they have left.

By using the CRIS system, the researchers also identified more adults with intellectual disabilities accessing services at SLaM compared to those who have been formally coded as having intellectual disabilities.  

Study co-author Dr Jean O’Hara, consultant psychiatrist at SLaM and National Clinical Director for Learning Disabilities at NHS England, says that: “Our research found that adults with intellectual disabilities not only have a higher risk of hospitalisation with respiratory disease, but also have longer lengths of stay and a higher risk of repeat admissions. Given that our patient cohort was mainly made up of people with mild or moderate, as opposed to severe, intellectual disabilities, this is a new finding.  It means there is a significant opportunity for earlier public health interventions to play a key role in reducing these admissions.  It also showed however, that our services need to be much more proactive in identifying people with intellectual disabilities and flagging this properly in order to facilitate more tailored care pathways for this patient group.”

Read the full study ‘Hospital admissions for respiratory system diseases in adults with intellectual disabilities in Southeast London: a register-based cohort study’ in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BMJ Open.

Tags: Publications - Informatics - CRIS - Clinical and population informatics -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 8 Apr 2017, 14:01 PM

Back to Blog List