Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Intellectual disability and mental health problems: a qualitative study of general practitioners’ views
  1. Terje Fredheim1,2,
  2. Ole Rikard Haavet2,
  3. Lars Johan Danbolt1,3,
  4. Kari Kjønsberg1,
  5. Lars Lien1,4
  1. 1Centre for Psychology of Religion, Innlandet Hospital Trust (SIHF), Hamar, Norway
  2. 2Department of General Practice, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Faculty of Public Health, University College of Hedmark, Elverum, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Terje Fredheim; terje.fredheim{at}


Objectives To investigate general practitioners’ (GPs) experiences in managing patients with intellectual disabilities (ID) and mental and behavioural problems (MBP).

Design Qualitative study using in-depth interviews.

Setting General practice in Hedmark county, Norway.

Participants 10 GPs were qualitatively interviewed about their professional experience regarding patients with ID and MBP. Data were analysed by all authors using systematic text condensation.

Results The participants’ knowledge was primarily experience-based and collaboration with specialists seemed to be individual rather than systemic. The GPs provided divergent attitudes to referral, treatment, collaboration, regular health checks and home visits.

Conclusions GPs are in a position to provide evidence-based and individual treatment for both psychological and somatic problems among patients with ID. However, they do not appear to be making use of evidence-based treatment decisions. The GPs feel that they are left alone in decision-making, and find it difficult to find trustworthy collaborative partners. The findings in this study provide useful information for further research in the field.

  • Intellectual disability
  • General practice
  • Mental Health
  • Challenging behaviour
  • Qualitative Research

this is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution non-commercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. see: and

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.