Impetus for action: To conduct a user-friendly questionnaire survey of the oral health and service needs of adults with learning disabilities. Solution: Researchers collaborated with local self-advocacy services to develop a questionnaire adapted from one used in a regional postal survey. The questionnaire, which covered dental status, oral health and dental services use, was sent to a random sample of people from the learning disability case register. Outcome: Of 2,000 questionnaires mailed, 117 were returned undelivered and 625 were completed (response rate 31.3%). The self-reported dental status of people with learning disabilities appeared similar to that of the 2008 postal survey of the general population in Sheffield. The major difference in dental status was 11.5% of people with learning disabilities wore upper dentures and 7.2% wore lower dentures, compared to 21.2% and 12.1% of the general population in Sheffield. Challenges: Using the case register as a recruitment instrument may have excluded people with learning disabilities not registered. Time and finances only permitted one mailing. Analysis on the basis of deprivation could not be conducted. Future implications and learning points: Contrary to current practice, it is possible to include people with learning disabilities in oral health surveys. A multidisciplinary team was essential for enabling the progression and implementation of inclusive research and for people with learning disabilities and their supporters to engage meaningfully. This level of collaboration appears necessary if we are committed to ensuring that people with learning disabilities and their supporters are made visible to policy and decision-makers.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© BASCD 2017.
- Learning disabilities
- Oral health