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Inequalities in health and service use among people with borderline intellectual impairment

Older people
Researchers: Sally McManus
Published: November 2018

This report, produced in collaboration with Professor Angela Hassiotis and others, sets out the extent to which people with borderline intellectual impairment face inequalities in health and use of services compared with the rest of the population, and seeks to improve awareness of these inequalities.

Findings

  • Borderline intellectual impairment is common, affecting at least one adult in ten in England.  The term is used here to refer to people with good verbal skills and living in private households, but who may experience cognitive impairments. 
  • The findings in this report are consistent with previous research: people with borderline intellectual impairment are a disadvantaged group and their needs are not well understood. 
  • Such adults face high levels of poor mental health, poorer general health, and many limitations in their daily lives. 
  • Their level of use of mental health treatment and services does not appear to be commensurate with their higher level of need. This indicates that they are underserved compared with the rest of the population.
  • This may be due to a lack of professional awareness of their needs, to services not adapting enough to meet those needs, or to difficulties the individual faces in seeking treatment and support. 
  • Adults with borderline intellectual impairment constitute key users of primary and secondary health care, and employment, education and welfare support. Improving awareness of the needs of this group should form part of wider plans to reduce inequalities in health and service use in England.

Methods

Secondary analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) was conducted to profile the circumstances of people with borderline intellectual impairment. APMS is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive national household surveys to assess both intellectual functioning and mental health in adults in England.

Download the report

Download the report summary