Training on intellectual disability in health sciences: The European perspective

Luis Salvador-Carulla, Rafael Martínez-Leal, Carla Heyler, Javier Alvarez-Galvez, Marja Y. Veenstra, Jose García-Ibáñez, Sylvia Carpenter, Marco Bertelli, Kerim Munir, Jennifer Torr, Henny M.J. Van Schrojenstein Lantman-De Valk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Intellectual disability (ID) has consequences at all stages of life, requires high service provision and leads to high health and societal costs. However, ID is largely disregarded as a health issue by national and international organisations, as are training in ID and in the health aspects of ID at every level of the education system.

Specific aim: This paper aims to (1) update the current information about availability of training and education in ID and related health issues in Europe with a particular focus in mental health; and (2) to identify opportunities arising from the initial process of educational harmonization in Europe to include ID contents in health sciences curricula and professional training.

Method: We carried out a systematic search of scientific databases and websites, as well as policy and research reports from the European Commission, European Council andWHO. Furthermore, we contacted key international organisations related to health education and/or ID in Europe, as well as other regional institutions.

Results: ID modules and contents are minimal in the revised health sciences curricula and publications on ID training in Europe are equally scarce. European countries report few undergraduate and graduate training modules in ID, even in key specialties such as paediatrics. Within the health sector, ID programmes focus mainly on psychiatry and psychology.

Conclusion: The poor availability of ID training in health sciences is a matter of concern. However, the current European policy on training provides an opportunity to promote ID in the curricula of programmes at all levels. This strategy should address all professionals working in ID and it should increase the focus on ID relative to other developmental disorders at all stages of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-31
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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