Qualitative Health Needs Assessment of the Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability Clients of a Social Service Agency in Central Texas

Shelby McGhee, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background Individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) experience disparate quality of life, lower life expectancy, and higher risk of comorbid conditions compared to the non-disabled population. In Central Texas, a social service agency that serves this population aims to strategize health promotion interventions that both address these disparities and improve health behaviors within the IDD community. An important first step was to identify and prioritize key areas of need in the IDD population. This study identified specific perceived health needs of this central Texas IDD community through group interviews conducted with case managers. It also analyzed potential assets and partners through interviews with community health-related organization leaders. Objective This study seeks to identify priority health needs and potential partners of the intellectual and/or developmental disability clients of a social service agency in Central Texas. Methods Three group interviews were conducted with all case managers employed at the agency (n=18 to assess perceived priority health needs of clients. Qualitative interviews (n=6) were conducted with leaders from health-related community organizations to identify potential assets and partners. The data were coded and analyzed using Nvivo software to detect emerging themes. Results Case managers most often cited access to care, dental health, nutrition, and physical activity as priority health needs for IDD clients. While several factors played into clients’ health needs, where they live and if they have support were of most importance. The agency identified currents assets like physical space and pre-existing agency activities as potential areas in which to incorporate health and wellness goals. Interviews with community health leaders revealed that only two of the organizations currently provide specialized services for individuals with IDD. The six organizations interviewed provide services in three key focus areas: IDD support and advocacy, physical activity, and nutrition. While all interviewed leaders were enthusiastic about potential partnership, most request tools and training to make their current assets and activities inclusive to the IDD population. Conclusions Access to care, dental health, nutrition, and physical activity were revealed as key health needs in the IDD clients of the social service agency as perceived by their case managers. One hundred percent of interviewed community health leaders expressed interest in partnering on health programming. Tools and training were the most requested support to make existing assets and activities inclusive for IDD clients. These results will guide the agency of what health needs to prioritize for future programming and how best to create impactful community partnerships. Future research should assess clients’ views on their needs and explore existing health programs for IDD populations on which to model agency interventions.

Subject Area

Disability studies|Health sciences|Behavioral Sciences

Recommended Citation

McGhee, Shelby, "Qualitative Health Needs Assessment of the Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability Clients of a Social Service Agency in Central Texas" (2018). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10790132.