Staff training in intellectual disability services: a review of the literature and implications for mental health services provided to individuals with intellectual disability

Peer-reviewed article
(2013 Nov) Int Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 58


Jphn Rose and Sarah Kent


The Department of Health (2001, 2009) policy shift from specialist intellectual disability (ID) services towards mainstream mental health service provision has implications for staff. Research suggests that mainstream mental health service staff perceive inadequate training and a consequent knowledge deficit in relation to individuals with ID. Consequently, the implementation of appropriate staff training packages seems imperative to ensure high quality mental health care to this population.

PsycINFO and OvidMEDLINE® were accessed to conduct a systematic literature review. The current evidence base on training approaches for staff who provide services to individuals with ID was identified. A broad review of ID staff training approaches provided an opportunity to extrapolate the most relevant research findings with regard to increasing staff skills, knowledge and attitudes for staff in mental health services. Once exclusion criteria was applied, the literature search produced a total of 29 articles, spanning from January 2004 to March 2009, appropriate for inclusion in the review. The review suggested that training for staff who deliver services to individuals with ID can be effective in increasing skills, knowledge and attitudes. This is discussed within the context of training for staff providing mental health services for adults with ID. Future research is proposed in light of the methodological limitations identified within the studies reviewed.