Health and wellbeing feasibility study

This research project will test the feasibility of including young people experiencing intellectual disability in health and wellbeing research


In recent years the concept of children’s wellbeing has become a priority in academic, government and public sectors in countries across the world (for example, Statham and Chase 2010).

There has also been an increase in research on young people's wellbeing over the last decade, with several large-scale cross-sectional surveys demonstrating how wellbeing is associated with a range of outcomes including educational attainment, physical health and fitness, social relationships and engagement in risk behaviours.

Whilst this growing body of research has made a considerable contribution to our current understanding of young people's wellbeing and the various factors that are associated with it, there are still significant gaps.

There are limitations to current large-scale global studies of wellbeing: they do not include children attending special schools who experience intellectual disabilities, but instead use samples from mainstream schools only.

Indeed, the most recent report from the Children’s Worlds survey highlights the exclusion of marginalised children, including those in special schools, and suggests that there is a real need for ways to be found to “include these children in research on children’s lives and wellbeing” (Rees and Main 2015, pg. 16).

Finding ways to adapt research instruments and methods for use with children experiencing intellectual disabilities is of paramount importance, so that not only can they provide their own views and opinions on such an important aspect of their life, but also to aid their participation and inclusion in research of this nature.

This will be of major importance in order to address the growing health inequalities that exist amongst this group.

Project aims

The two aims of the study are to:

  • modify standardised wellbeing measures to ensure their suitability for use with children experiencing intellectual disabilities
  • conduct a feasibility study to test the appropriateness of using the modified measures with pupils in special schools, and assess the psychometric properties

Project objectives


To achieve these aims, this study has the following objectives to

  • establish a school advisory group at two special schools to advise on the appropriateness of a range of questions and standardised measures for pupils attending special schools
  • involve the young people in making any adaptations/additions to questionnaires that may be necessary to ensure their utility for those experiencing intellectual disabilities
  • seek advice on the most appropriate mode of administration of the measures to ensure the inclusion of as many pupils as possible
  • test the revised questionnaires and the mode of administration across a number of special school settings
  • explore the psychometric properties of the modified measures using test-retest data analysis techniques

This research is funded by Baily Thomas Charitable Fund



Research Team - Psychology Research Institute

Dr Jenny Davison

Lecturer in Psychology (Social Psychology)

School of Psychology