Prevalence of reported physical health problems in people with severe or profound intellectual and motor disabilities: a cross-sectional study of medical records and care plans

Dinette van Timmeren, A. A. J. van der Putten, H. M. J. van Schrojenstein Lantman-de Valk, Cees van der Schans, A. Waninge

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BACKGROUND: People with severe or profound intellectual and motor disabilities (SPIMD) experience numerous serious physical health problems and comorbidities. Knowledge regarding the prevalence of these problems is needed in order to detect and treat them at an early stage. Data concerning these problems in individuals with SPIMD are limited. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of reported physical health problems in adults with SPIMD through a review of medical records and care plans.

METHOD: We conducted a cross-sectional study employing data obtained from medical and support records. A sample of adults with SPIMD was recruited in eight residential care settings. Physical health problems that had occurred during the previous 12 months or were chronic were recorded.

RESULTS: The records of 99 participants were included. A wide range of physical health problems were found with a mean of 12 problems per person. Very high prevalence rates (>50%) were found for constipation, visual impairment, epilepsy, spasticity, deformations, incontinence and reflux.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that people with SPIMD simultaneously experience numerous, serious physical health problems. The reliance on reported problems may cause an underestimation of the prevalence of health problems with less visible signs and symptoms such as osteoporosis and thyroid dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1118
JournalJournal of intellectual disability research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016



  • intellectual disabilities, physical health, profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, severe or profound intellectual and motor disabilities

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