Lifestyle Approaches for People With Intellectual Disabilities: A Systematic Multiple Case Analysis

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Background Health care organizations supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities (IDs) carry out a range of interventions to support and improve a healthy lifestyle. However, it is difficult to implement an active and healthy lifestyle into daily support. The presence of numerous intervention components, multiple levels of influence, and the explicit use of theory are factors that are considered to be essential for implementation in practice. A comprehensive written lifestyle policy provides for sustainability of a lifestyle approach. It is unknown to what extent these crucial factors for successful implementation are taken into consideration by health care organizations supporting this population. Aim To analyze the intervention components, levels of influence, explicit use of theory, and conditions for sustainability of currently used lifestyle interventions within lifestyle approaches aiming at physical activity and nutrition in health care organizations supporting people with ID. Methods In this descriptive multiple case study of 9 health care organizations, qualitative data of the lifestyle approaches with accompanying interventions and their components were compiled with a newly developed online inventory form. Results From 9 health care organizations, 59 interventions were included, of which 31% aimed to improve physical activity, 10% nutrition, and 59% a combination of both. Most (49%) interventions aimed at the educational component and less at daily (19%) and generic activities (16%) and the evaluation component (16%). Most interventions targeted individuals with ID and the professionals whereas social levels were underrepresented. Although 52% of the interventions were structurally embedded, only 10 of the 59 interventions were theory-driven. Conclusion Health care organizations could improve their lifestyle approaches by using an explicit theoretical basis by expanding the current focus of the interventions that primarily concentrate on their clients and professionals toward also targeting the social and external environment as well as the introduction of a written lifestyle policy. This policy should encompass all interventions and should be the responsibility of those in the organization working with individuals with ID. In conclusion, comprehensive, integrated, and theory-driven approaches at multiple levels should be promoted.




Steenbergen, H. A., Van der Schans, C. P., Van Wijck, R., De Jong, J., & Waninge, A. (2017). Lifestyle Approaches for People With Intellectual Disabilities: A Systematic Multiple Case Analysis. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 18(11), 980-987.e3.

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