Trauma‐Specific Treatment for Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Review of the Literature From 2008 to 2018

Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

John M. Keesler

https://doi.org/10.1111/jppi.12347

Abstract

Background: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are at increased risk for adverse experiences and developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, trauma and PTSD in this population are frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. Despite the availability of multiple types of trauma‐specific treatments for the general population, there is a gap in understanding these collective interventions within the IDD literature.

Specific Aims: The aim of this article was to conduct a review of the peer‐reviewed literature on trauma‐specific treatment and IDD published from 2008 to 2018.

Method: A systematic search of online databases was conducted using Academic Search Premier, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, and Social Work Abstracts. A quality appraisal was conducted on the studies included in the review.

Findings: Twelve articles described four types of trauma‐specific treatments: child–parent psychotherapy, exposure therapy, trauma‐focused cognitive behavior therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. All studies demonstrated that the interventions were well tolerated and associated with improvement in trauma symptoms. Eight studies demonstrated sustained improvement at follow‐up, ranging from 6 weeks to 5 years.

Discussion: Research on trauma‐specific treatments among individuals with IDD continues to present with methodological limitations yet provides considerations for future practice and a foundation for future research.

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