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BMC Fam Pract. 2009 Dec 17;10:82. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-10-82.

Doctor-patient communication with people with intellectual disability--a qualitative study.

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Department of General Practice, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI) Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.



People with intellectual disability (ID) expressed dissatisfaction with doctor-patient communication and mentioned certain preferences for this communication (our research). Since many people with ID in the Netherlands have recently moved from residential care facilities to supported accommodations in the community, medical care for them was transferred from ID physicians (IDPs) to general practitioners (GPs) in the vicinity of the new accommodation. We addressed the following research question: 'What are the similarities and differences between the communication preferences of people with ID and the professional criteria for doctor-patient communication by GPs?'


A focus group meeting and interviews were used to identify the preferences of 12 persons with ID for good communication with their GP; these were compared with communication criteria used to assess trainee GPs, as described in the MAAS-Global manual.


Eight preferences for doctor-patient communication were formulated by the people with ID. Six of them matched the criteria used for GPs. Improvements are required as regards the time available for consultation, demonstrating physical examinations before applying them and triadic communication.


People with ID hold strong views on communication with their doctors during consultations. GPs, people with ID and their support workers can further fine-tune their communication skills.

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