Impact of a Health Advocacy Curriculum for Health Care Providers in Caring for Persons with I/DD

Beth Marks, RN, PhD, Jasmina Sisirak, MPH, & Tamar Heller, PhD


Medical students and residents often receive less than 3hours of education regarding health care issues and needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD.This lack of knowledge and experience among physicians can translate into negative attitudes further compromising the provision of culturally appropriate, accessible, acceptable, and equitable health care. This study aims to describe the attitudes of physicians within Illinois pediatric residency programs in caring for adolescents with I/DD transitioning into adulthood and to test the efficacy of a Health Advocacy Curriculum.

Thirty-five pediatric residents received a 2hour health advocacy training to increase their knowledge,improve attitudes,and enhance self-efficacy towards health advocacy for adolescents with I/DD.

Baseline data showed 77% of the residents lacked experience when dealing with patients with I/DD and 71% were not confident in discussing transition information effectively to parents and adolescents with I/DD.Following training, pediatric residents had improved knowledge scores (t=−5.461,p=0.000) and self-efficacy scores (t=−3.508,p=0.002).

This curriculum has the potential to improve physicians’ capacity to understand the unique needs of adolescents with ID to enhance quality health care for individuals with I/DD.