The Use of Accessible Information in the Healthcare of People with Learning Disabilities: Final Project Report July 2015

Dominic Jarrett, Sharon A. McGregor, Melody M. Terras

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    The provision of appropriate information, and its comprehension, are key components of quality health care and the promotion of wellbeing. The present study explored the role of accessible information (AI) in this among people with a learning disability, and in relation to other services and client groups, with particular attention being paid to the use and production of easy read resources.

    102 clinicians completed an online questionnaire which examined staff’s views and experiences regarding AI, including its nature, important aspects, and their involvement in its production. Respondents came from Learning Disability; Adult Mental Health; Child and Adolescent Mental Health; and Primary Care services. Focus groups with 35 staff, and semi-structured interviews with 10 people with learning disabilities, and 10 carers (5 paid, and 5 unpaid), explored information seeking behaviour and the use of AI to support inclusion and decision making.

    Questionnaire data demonstrated variable use and understanding of AI across services. Staff within the Learning Disability, CAMHS and Adult Mental Health Services were significantly more knowledgeable regarding aspects of easy read material than those in Primary Care, and were more likely to identify easy read materials as being beneficial to a greater variety of populations (e.g. children, the elderly, those with addictions or mental health problems).

    Interview and focus group data emphasised the need to tailor information to the needs of the individual, and highlighted the ways in which standard information can disadvantage those with known or hidden literacy issues. Arguments for the general relevance of easy read information were off-set against concerns that many would find the materials ‘child-like’. People with a learning disability spoke positively about the relevance of scenarios using photographs, the use of simpler language and larger font. Carers described their key role as communication partners, and the way in which accessible information was used to frame discussions around health.

    Providing information to meet the specific needs of the individual was a prominent theme for staff, carers and people with learning disabilities. There was evident scope for the broader promotion of accessible information, as a means of addressing service-created inequalities, but so too was a need for this to be better informed by other existing areas of knowledge regarding cognition and design. Evolving this agenda may benefit from the application of ecological and inclusive perspectives.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherUniversity of the West of Scotland
    Commissioning bodyNHS Ayrshire and Arran
    Number of pages114
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015


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