Intellectual disability health content within the nursing curriculum: an audit of what our future nurses are taught

Trollor, Julian N., Eagleson, Claire, Turner, Beth, Salomon, Carmela, Cashin, Andrew, Iacono, Teresa, Goddard, Linda and Lennox, Nicholas (2016) Intellectual disability health content within the nursing curriculum: an audit of what our future nurses are taught. Nurse Education Today, 45 72-79. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2016.06.011

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Author Trollor, Julian N.
Eagleson, Claire
Turner, Beth
Salomon, Carmela
Cashin, Andrew
Iacono, Teresa
Goddard, Linda
Lennox, Nicholas
Title Intellectual disability health content within the nursing curriculum: an audit of what our future nurses are taught
Journal name Nurse Education Today   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0260-6917
Publication date 2016-10-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.nedt.2016.06.011
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 45
Start page 72
End page 79
Total pages 8
Place of publication Kidlington, United Kingdom
Publisher Churchill Livingstone
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Individuals with intellectual disability experience chronic and complex health issues, but face considerable barriers to healthcare. One such barrier is inadequate education of healthcare professionals.


To establish the quantity and nature of intellectual disability content offered within Australian nursing degree curricula.


A two-phase national audit of nursing curriculum content was conducted using an interview and online survey.


Australian nursing schools offering pre-registration courses.


Pre-registration course coordinators from 31 universities completed the Phase 1 interview on course structure. Unit coordinators and teaching staff from 15 universities in which intellectual disability content was identified completed the Phase 2 online survey.


Quantity of compulsory and elective intellectual disability content offered (units and teaching time) and the nature of the content (broad categories, specific topics, and inclusive teaching) were audited using an online survey.


Over half (52%) of the schools offered no intellectual disability content. For units of study that contained some auditable intellectual disability content, the area was taught on average for 3.6 h per unit of study. Units were evenly distributed across the three years of study. Just three participating schools offered 50% of all units audited. Clinical assessment skills, and ethics and legal issues were most frequently taught, while human rights issues and preventative health were poorly represented. Only one nursing school involved a person with intellectual disability in content development or delivery.


Despite significant unmet health needs of people with intellectual disability, there is considerable variability in the teaching of key intellectual disability content, with many gaps evident. Equipping nursing students with skills in this area is vital to building workforce capacity.
Keyword Intellectual disability
Nursing education
Health inequalities
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Mater Research Institute-UQ (MRI-UQ)
HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 03 Nov 2016, 00:07:50 EST by Nicholas Lennox on behalf of Qld Ctr Intellectual and Developmental Disability