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Need for Improved Health Promotion for People with Learning Disabilities

People with learning disabilities suffer from significantly more health problems than the general population, according to University of Ulster researchers.

They are also much more likely than other citizens to have significant health risks and major health problems, according to new research conducted by the Nursing Research Institute at the University of Ulster’s School of Nursing.

Presenting their findings to the British Psychological Society, Division of Health Psychology Conference in Belfast this week, Dr Laurence Taggart (pictured) said their research highlighted the need for improved health promotion for people with learning disabilities.

The other members of the research team included Dr Eamonn Slevin, Dr Wendy Cousins and Lisa Maria Hanna from the Developmental Disabilities and Child Health Research Group.

Dr Taggart said: “Part of the reason why the health outcomes of this group are poor, is that people with learning disabilities are often very reliant on both informal and formal carers to promote healthy lifestyles and to make healthy choices on their behalf.  However, professional and family carers may not always be fully aware of the importance of health promotion activity for people with learning disabilities.”

Dr Cousins said: “Our research looked at the needs of young people and adults living in residential homes, cancer-screening for women and healthier lifestyles for intellectually disabled children through good diet and physical activity.

“People with learning disabilities are living longer than ever before. The aim of health promotion is to enable them to live healthier lives too so we have to look at new and different ways to promote a healthier lifestyle to them.  

Conference website: http://www.bps.org.uk/dhp2010/

Research group website: http://www.science.ulster.ac.uk/inr/groups/ddch/index.html

Notes to Editors

Dr Laurence Taggart is available for interview on Thursday 16th September 14, 2010 Tel: 07859803478 

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