Evaluating the Impact of a Clinician Improvement Program for Treating Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: The Challenging Case of Mississippi
Bartkowski, John P.
Escude, Craig L.
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In recent years, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have moved from institutionalized settings to local community residences. While deinstitutionalization has yielded quality of life improvements for people with IDD, this transition presents significant health-related challenges. Community clinicians have typically not been trained to provide sound medical care to people with IDD, a subpopulation that exhibits unique medical needs and significant health disparities. This study reports the results of a comprehensive evaluation of an IDD-focused clinician improvement program implemented throughout Mississippi. DETECT (Developmental Evaluation, Training and Consultative Team) was formed to equip Mississippi’s physicians and nurses to offer competent medical care to people with IDD living in community residences. Given the state’s pronounced health disparities and its clinician shortage, Mississippi offers a stringent test of program effectiveness. Results of objective survey indicators and subjective rating barometers administered before and after clinician educational seminars reveal robust statistically significant differences in clinician knowledge and self-assessed competence related to treating people with IDD. These results withstand controls for various confounding factors. Positive post-only results were also evident in a related program designed specifically for medical students. The study concludes by specifying a number of implications, including potential avenues for the wider dissemination of this program and promising directions for future research.