Background Mental ill-health is more prevalent among adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) than in the wider population. An interest in the mental health needs of people with ID has developed in recent decades, which corresponds with implementation of the health and social policy of deinstitutionalisation. Much clinical and research activity has focused on how such mental health needs may be addressed. The literature indicates that the views of people with ID concerning their mental health care have received limited attention.
Aim To describe the adaption of a psychosocial research approach (Hollway and Jefferson 2000, 2013), and discuss the methodological challenges encountered in enabling adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) to express their views and be actively involved in producing knowledge about their experiences of care and support as service users with diagnosed mental health needs.
Discussion A considerable advantage of the interview format of this psychosocial approach was the opportunities it afforded participants to recount their personal stories. This is contrary to the question-and-answer technique of interviewing, which can suppress the stories of interviewees. In such structured approaches, the interviewer establishes the boundaries and usually maintains control over the production of data.
Conclusion Undertaking two research interviews with participants, analysis of the entire material regarding individual participants, and undertaking comparative analysis of data relating to all participants provided a system for checking consistency. This approach therefore provides a valid method for enabling the participation of people with ID.
Implications for practice The approach used is congruent with the requirement for the subjectivities of researchers – and those being researched – to be acknowledged, which is central to disability research. It is also compatible with person-centred planning and coproduction, which are central to contemporary ID nursing practice.
Sutton P, Gates B (2018) Giving voice to adults with intellectual disabilities and experience of mental ill-health: validity of a psychosocial approach. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2018.e1520
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Conflict of interest
Published online: 13 September 2018