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Development of a Health Assessment Instrument for Adults with Mental Retardation

by Klimon, Nancy L.

Abstract (Summary)
This project resulted in the development of a new caregiver-administered health assessment instrument, Lets Get Healthy Together!, for adults with mental retardation who live with their families. The instrument, which consists of 64 questions over 20 pages and has a completion time of about 17 minutes, addresses a wide range of health issues, including oral health, social supports, preventive screenings, diet, exercise and smoking. This project is of public health significance as health disparities exist for those with mental retardation compared to the general population. This instrument can address those disparities on two levels: individually to identify health concerns that may need further attention, and on a large scale to identify population based health issues that may merit intervention on a systemic level. The project was undertaken in cooperation with, and for the benefit of, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation (OMR). The instrument was developed based on a qualitative study of the health issues and risk factors for this population, using focus group and telephone interviews with caregivers and individuals, a literature review, and expert interviews. A pretest, consisting of telephone and expert interviews, was conducted, and a final version of the instrument prepared. The primary finding from the preliminary research done with caregivers was that while most saw no benefit in using a health assessment instrument, a subset of them who later tested the Lets Get Healthy Together! instrument, relayed comments that were very positive overall. The only negative reaction was that the instrument was not comprehensive enough to address the specific clinical needs of someone with Down syndrome. Participants expressed greater concern with systemic issues and barriers, such as the quality of the health care system, than for the individual issues for their family members. The instrument that is presented to OMR addresses the primary health issues and risk factors for adults with mental retardation. Further pretesting, and a comprehensive pilot test, is recommended before implementing the Lets Get Healthy Together! instrument.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Edmund R. Ricci; Dr. Stephen Bagnato; Dr. Louis Pingel; Dr. Kenneth J. Jaros

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:behavioral and community health sciences

ISBN:

Date of Publication:02/07/2007

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