TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Adults with developmental disabilities
such as autism and Down syndrome in Ontario are having a harder time
accessing health care even though they have more health issues than
people without developmental disabilities, according to research done
at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
"This group of individuals is a silent minority in the health care
system, but now instead of just relying on anecdotal evidence, we
finally have the big picture on their health and the health services
that they use," says Yona Lunsky, lead author of the Atlas on the Primary Care of Adults with Developmental Disabilities in
The atlas, the largest study of its kind, found there are over 66,000
adults with developmental disabilities under age 65 in Ontario. Adults
with developmental disabilities live in poorer neighbourhoods and have
higher rates of physical and mental health problems than other Ontario
adults. They receive multiple medications for these health issues,
which are not always well monitored. While they are as likely to see
their family physician as other adults, they are more likely to visit
emergency departments and to be hospitalized.
"These individuals don't get the same level of preventive care, such as
cancer screening and not all of their chronic health issues are managed
as well as they should be. In general, their care is not consistent
with what health-care guidelines recommend for adults with
developmental disabilities," says Lunsky, a clinician scientist at
CAMH, an adjunct scientist at ICES and director of the Health Care
Access Research and Developmental Disabilities (H-CARDD) research
"Although the level of care was good during emergencies, there was a
recurring mantra of 'patch her up and send her out until the next time'
… We felt then, as we do now, that there needs to be a better process
that connects hospitals, caregivers, family doctors and patients with a
focus on long-term intervention, thereby reducing the need for
emergency hospitalization," says Roger Oxenham, father of a young adult
with developmental disabilities.
Researchers are recommending strategies to enhance the overall health
and wellbeing of individuals with developmental disabilities. They
Enabling primary care providers to more easily offer
Addressing the broader health system issues and pathways to care, and
Making people with developmental disabilities and their families and
paid staff active partners in care, giving them the tools they need
The H-CARDD program has two projects underway to improve health outcomes for adults
with developmental disabilities: the Primary care project with family health teams and the Emergency care project.
Lunsky will be speaking at Health and Wellbeing in Developmental Disabilities: Engaging Health Care
Professionals conference in Toronto on November 12 and 13.
ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses
population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad
range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of
health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting
health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of
practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is
highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government,
hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care
delivery and to develop policy.
For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental
health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy
development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues. Fully affiliated with
the University of Toronto, CAMH is a Pan American Health
Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more
information, please visit www.camh.ca.
SOURCE: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
(o) 416-480-4780 or (c) 416-904-4547
Senior Media Relations Specialist, CAMH