Bowel health and screening: evaluating a peer-led educational intervention for people with learning disabilities
evidence and practice    

Bowel health and screening: evaluating a peer-led educational intervention for people with learning disabilities

Jonathan Gray Lecturer, Centre for Health Science, University of the Highlands and Islands, Inverness, Scotland
Jane Chandler Health improvement specialist, Larch House, NHS Highland, Inverness, Scotland
Ellie Wolf Area manager, Key Community Supports, Inverness, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To explore the barriers to bowel screening uptake among people with learning disabilities

  • To enhance your awareness of the benefits of peer-led education for people with learning disabilities

  • To find out about the development of engaging educational materials for people with learning disabilities

Bowel or colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer in Scotland. People with learning disabilities have higher rates of mortality associated with cancer of the colon and the rectum than the general population. Data for 2016 suggest that in the NHS Highland health board area less than half of all people known to specialist learning disability services, who were eligible for bowel screening, participated in the Scottish national bowel screening programme.

To address the low uptake of bowel screening among people with learning disabilities, a peer-led educational intervention was developed and delivered to 109 adults with learning disabilities in the health board area. Its aims were to increase participants’ knowledge of bowel health and bowel screening and reduce the barriers to their participation in the bowel screening programme.

This article describes the intervention and discusses the findings from its evaluation. The intervention appears to have increased participants’ knowledge of bowel health and bowel screening as well as their willingness to undergo screening.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2021.e2131

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

jonathan.gray@uhi.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Gray J, Chandler J, Wolf E (2021) Bowel health and screening: evaluating a peer-led educational intervention for people with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2021.e2131

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of David Hughes, accessible information officer at NHS Highland, and John Gallon, peer educator at Health and Happiness in the Highlands, without whom this project would not have been such an enjoyable experience for participants.

Published online: 20 May 2021

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