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