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The population of adults with intellectual disabilities has been largely neglected in survey research, as the significant impairments in communication and understanding that are common among this population were considered too great a barrier to their participation in large-scale surveys. While there had been qualitative research, prior to 2002 there had never been a nationally representative survey conducted with this population. In surveys concerning this population, data was largely collected from proxy respondents, such as parents or caregivers. In the absence of a sampling frame for the whole population, surveys generally used convenience samples of those in touch with services.
In March 2001, the UK government White Paper Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century (Department of Health, 2001) was published, setting out the Government’s commitment to improving the life chances of people with intellectual disabilities in England. This was the first White Paper in thirty years concerning this population, and there had been a significant amount of change in service provision in that time. One important issue highlighted in the White Paper was the lack of national information available for England about people with intellectual disabilities, with much information based on estimates from administrative data, in the absence of survey research.
People with intellectual disabilities die at a younger age and have poorer health than their non-disabled peers. This is largely avoidable and is unjust. This book uses concepts from contemporary public health to provide a comprehensive evidence-based overview of: the nature and extent of the health inequalities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities; why these inequalities occur and persist; and what can and needs to be done to address these inequalities. The authors have a wealth of firsthand experience gained from years of working at the interface between disability research and public health. This experience is collected and shared in this volume, which will be an invaluable resource for practitioners, advocates, policymakers and researchers concerned with health and social care and the wellbeing of disabled people.