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What Impact Can Organizations Have on the Health of People with IDD?

By Carli Friedman, CQL Director of Research

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have significantly poorer health and shorter life expectancies than nondisabled people. Social circumstances, environmental conditions, and access to health care services all play a role in people with IDD’s health. In fact, human service organizations’ attitudes towards health, as well as their organizational culture, can impact the success of health initiatives.

For these reasons, the aim of this study recently conducted by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership was to explore not only who was least likely to receive organizational supports for health, but also how having organizational supports in place can impact people with IDD’s health. To do so, we analyzed Personal Outcome Measures® interviews from approximately 1,300 people.

Our findings reveal individualized organizational supports can play a key role in promoting the health of people with IDD. For example, people with IDD’s health intervention services were 6 times more likely to be effective when organizational supports were in place (see Figure). They were also more likely to have dental exams, have annual physicals, be consulted on health intervention services, and have health/medical devices or equipment.

The Impact of Organizational Supports on Different Areas of Health

This figure shows the odds of each outcome happening when health supports are in place. When health organizational supports are in place, people are 2.2 times more likely to have annual dental exams, 3.4 times more likely to have health intervention services selected by the person, 4.4 times more likely to have an annual physical, 5.5 times more likely to have effective health interventions, 5.5 times more likely to have devices and equipment available and in good repair, and 12.6 times more likely to have health care professionals identify best possible health situations, including addressing any health care issues or concerns and interventions.

People with IDD are 13 times more likely to have the outcome best possible health present when organizational supports are in place. In fact, “not only is every area of best possible health impacted by organizational supports being in place, according to our findings, almost every type of organizational support promoted the best possible health of people with IDD. People with IDD were more likely to have best possible health outcomes present when organizations supported people to self-manage their health, supported the person to be aware of their medical issues and their impact, knew the person’s definition of best possible health, provided supports to promote and maintain best possible health, and responded to the person’s changing health needs and preferences” (Friedman, Rizzolo, & Spassiani, 2019, pp. 5-6).

This article is a summary of the following journal manuscript: Friedman, C., Rizzolo, M. C., & Spassiani, N. A. (2020). The Impact of Organizational Supports on the Person‐Centered Health of People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 17(1), 70-78.