Best practice principles when working with individuals with intellectual disability and comorbid mental health concerns

Joyce Man*, Maria Kangas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Working with individuals with dual disabilities can be a complex process in the presence of limited evidence base to guide clinical practice. The aims of this qualitative study were to investigate perceptions of best practices of Australian psychologists who work with this specialist population. Thirty-eight Australian psychologists working in the intellectual disability field participated in eight semistructured focus groups. Perceptions of evidence-based practice for individuals with intellectual disabilities and in relation to mental health assessment were explored. Psychologists demonstrated resourcefulness in adapting to limits in available evidence-based practice and in modifying mainstream practice to suit the needs of individuals with dual disabilities. Findings suggest the necessity of practice-based evidence in contributing to the evidence base, and person-centered approaches in relation to best practice for people with intellectual disabilities. Implications for strengthening psychologists’ clinical competency and bridging the research and practice gap are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-571
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020



  • evidence-based practice
  • intellectual disability
  • mental health
  • qualitative
  • focus groups
  • Australia

Cite this