Social networks of people with mild intellectual disabilities: Characteristics, satisfaction, wishes and quality of life

A.E. van Asselt-Goverts, P.J.C.M. Embregts, A.H.C. Hendriks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
A supportive social network is crucial for facilitating social inclusion, which can, in turn, contribute to the quality of life (QOL) for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). In this study, we investigate how people with mild ID perceive their social networks and which network characteristics relate to satisfaction with the network and perceived QOL.

Method
Data were gathered from 33 young adults with a mild to borderline ID using structured questionnaires: the MSNA to map the social network, the IDQOL‐16 to assess QOL, and a questionnaire to determine satisfaction and wishes with regard to the social network.

Results
The majority of the participants (73.1%) were satisfied with their social networks. Improvement in the area of strengthening existing ties (e.g. more frequent contact, better contact) was desired as opposed to expansion of the network. Affection – especially towards family and professionals – was most strongly related to perceived QOL. It appears to be essential that relatives live in the same town, can frequently meet up and provide both emotional and practical support.

Conclusions
The significance of family and the importance of high‐quality interpersonal relationships between professional and client in the lives of young adults with ID cannot be overestimated. Although measures of satisfaction and wishes can have limitations, in actual practice it is considered useful to assess the opinions of clients with respect to their social networks. Interventions can then be tailored to the needs and wishes of the persons themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450–461
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Volume59
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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