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Front Public Health. 2014 Jul 7;2:76. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00076. eCollection 2014.

Primary care: mental and behavioral health and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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  • 1The Resource Exchange , Colorado Springs, CO , USA ; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , Jerusalem , Israel.
  • 2New Heights Behavioral Health , Colorado Springs, CO , USA ; Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs , Colorado Springs, CO , USA.
  • 3National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , Jerusalem , Israel ; Health Services, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services , Jerusalem , Israel ; Division of Pediatrics, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center , Jerusalem , Israel ; Kentucky Children's Hospital, University of Kentucky College of Medicine , Lexington, KY , USA ; Center for Healthy Development, School of Public Health, Georgia State University , Atlanta, GA , USA.



There are multiple ways to address the mental and behavioral health needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).


In this paper, we do not argue for a particular approach or set of approaches, but instead review the benefits of integrating mental and behavioral health supports with primary healthcare based primarily on our experience in and understanding of healthcare systems in the United States. It is estimated that between 35 and 40% of people with IDD also live with psychiatric disorders. NADD, an association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health needs in the US holds that coexisting IDD and a psychiatric disorder interferes with a person's education and job readiness, and disrupts family and peer relationships. Historically, the presence of such disorders among people with IDD was not well understood or was discounted altogether.


Over the past 15 years, however, greater attention is being paid to these comorbidities and their treatment, including the need to integrate mental and behavioral health treatments into primary care. Healthcare must account for multiple domains of quality of life, going beyond yearly physicals, and acute care visits, for example, to assess individuals' healthcare goals and support them in achieving those goals. While integrated healthcare delivery systems can be difficult to find and access for people with IDD, such approaches are more responsive to the comprehensive needs and desires of people with IDD.


behavioral health; disability; integration; intellectual disability; mental health; primary care; public health

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