Qualitative Study of Malnutrition in People With Intellectual Disabilities

Janine J. L. Franssen, Marian A. Maaskant*, Henny M. J. van Schrojenstein Lantman-de Valk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The prevalence of underweight status is relatively high in persons with intellectual disabilities. However, it is not clear whether this is due to malnourishment. The authors sought to examine the awareness and knowledge of physicians, dieticians, and direct care staff regarding malnutrition in people with intellectual disabilities. They also sought to obtain information about their experience with problems and possible solutions. Semi-structured interviews were held with a cross-section of physicians, dieticians, and direct care staff working with people with intellectual disabilities at six different service providers in the Netherlands. Dieticians and physicians noted that malnutrition is prevalent in persons with intellectual disabilities that they see, but they were uncertain about why this is the case. On the contrary, direct care staff were convinced that malnutrition was not present. Screening of high-risk persons for the presence of malnutrition is advised. In addition, the authors recommended education of direct care staff about healthy nutrition and weight and the development of a screening instrument for malnutrition specifically for people with intellectual disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-246
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • health
  • intellectual disabilities
  • malnutrition
  • nutrition
  • weight status

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