The Experiences of People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Emergency Room




Campbell, Barbara Pheon

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



People with intellectual disabilities (ID) have been living in various community settings in Texas since the 1970s. The principal notion was people with ID would access the same community services as those in the general population. One of those community services was accessing health services in the emergency room (ER). As counselors may not receive specialized training to work with these clients in this setting, it is important to learn about their lived experiences to provide the best care. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of people with ID in the ER utilizing a transcendental phenomenological method. Five people with mild ID were interviewed. Interviews were transcribed and examined individually. Four main themes and two subthemes were formed: medical cognizance, creating rapport through language (unsolicited empathy and compassion), assessment of systems issues, and discharge strategies (appropriateness of release). The findings suggest implications for the counseling profession as well as medical professionals. Suggestions for systems accommodations are offered.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


Emergency Room, Intellectual Disabilities, People with Disabilities, Physicians and People with Disabilities, Systems Accommodations for People with ID