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Attachment and trauma in people with intellectual disabilities

This thesis explored attachment in individuals with intellectual disability (ID). It investigated the role that attachment may have in presenting difficulties, including trauma symptoms, which has a growing body of literature, particularly in people without ID. Paper 1 describes a systematic review of the available literature relating to the psychological well-being of young people with ID in the UK who are 'looked after children' (LAC) or who live away from their birth families. Evidence suggests that both LAC and people with ID, may be vulnerable to developing mental health difficulties. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the psychological well-being of young people with ID who are LAC or who live away from birth families. 17 studies were reviewed, which ranged between 21% and 71% in quality as measured by the QATSDD (Sirriyeh, Lawton, Gardner, & Armitage, 2012). . Only one study was found that directly focused on the psychological well-being of LAC with an ID. The available studies offered some insights into the prevalence, characteristics of young people with ID who are LAC or who live away from their birth families and some of the psychological difficulties they encounter. However, given the methodological limitations of the included studies, no firm conclusions could be drawn. Paper 2 describes an empirical study that investigated the relationship between attachment security and trauma symptoms in adults with ID. 27 staff and service users participated in the research. Service user participants completed a self-report questionnaire regarding trauma symptoms with the researcher and staff participants provided demographic information and completed questionnaires that measured attachment security, trauma symptoms, depressive mood and traumatic events in relation to the service user. No relationship was found between attachment security and trauma symptoms. However, it provided tentative evidence with respect to the type of traumatic events experienced by people with ID and of the prevalence of mental health difficulties in people with ID. There were however several methodological limitations, including a small sample size. Implications for future research and clinical practice are outlined. Paper 3 provides a critical and personally reflective account of undertaking the systematic review and empirical study as outlined above. Strengths and limitations of the research are interwoven throughout. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are also considered.
Date January 2014
CreatorsPowney, Melanie
ContributorsWittkowski, Anja; Hare, Dougal
PublisherUniversity of Manchester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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