Article Text

Original research
Exploring patient safety outcomes for people with learning disabilities in acute hospital settings: a scoping review
  1. Gemma Louch1,2,
  2. Abigail Albutt1,2,
  3. Joanna Harlow-Trigg3,
  4. Sally Moore1,
  5. Kate Smyth2,4,
  6. Lauren Ramsey1,2,
  7. Jane K O'Hara2,5
  1. 1Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  2. 2NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, Bradford, UK
  3. 3School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  4. 4Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Preston, UK
  5. 5School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gemma Louch; Gemma.Louch{at}


Objectives To produce a narrative synthesis of published academic and grey literature focusing on patient safety outcomes for people with learning disabilities in an acute hospital setting.

Design Scoping review with narrative synthesis.

Methods The review followed the six stages of the Arksey and O’Malley framework. We searched four research databases from January 2000 to March 2021, in addition to handsearching and backwards searching using terms relating to our eligibility criteria—patient safety and adverse events, learning disability and hospital setting. Following stakeholder input, we searched grey literature databases and specific websites of known organisations until March 2020. Potentially relevant articles and grey literature materials were screened against the eligibility criteria. Findings were extracted and collated in data charting forms.

Results 45 academic articles and 33 grey literature materials were included, and we organised the findings around six concepts: (1) adverse events, patient safety and quality of care; (2) maternal and infant outcomes; (3) postoperative outcomes; (4) role of family and carers; (5) understanding needs in hospital and (6) supporting initiatives, recommendations and good practice examples. The findings suggest inequalities and inequities for a range of specific patient safety outcomes including adverse events, quality of care, maternal and infant outcomes and postoperative outcomes, in addition to potential protective factors, such as the roles of family and carers and the extent to which health professionals are able to understand the needs of people with learning disabilities.

Conclusion People with learning disabilities appear to experience poorer patient safety outcomes in hospital. The involvement of family and carers, and understanding and effectively meeting the needs of people with learning disabilities may play a protective role. Promising interventions and examples of good practice exist, however many of these have not been implemented consistently and warrant further robust evaluation.

  • quality in health care
  • organisation of health services
  • health services administration & management

Data availability statement

No additional data available.

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  • Twitter @Gemma_Louch, @janekohara

  • Contributors GL conceived the idea for the scoping review, led all stages of the scoping review and drafted the manuscript. AA contributed to all stages of the scoping review. KS reviewed the protocol, contributed to the search strategy and worked with the research team to develop materials for the wider patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) approach. JH-T, SM and LR contributed to the literature searching, screening and data extraction. JOH contributed to the consistency checks and wrote the first draft of the discussion. All authors provided comments and approved the final version.

  • Funding The scoping review was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR YH PSTRC).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.