A community developed conceptual model for reducing long-term health problems in children with intellectual disability in India.
Nair M., Hazarika M., Kishore MT., Sengupta N., Sheregar G., MacGregor H., Wickenden M., Kaushik NH., Saikia P., Kelley M., Shepperd S.
Children with intellectual disability (ID) have a higher risk of long-term health problems in adulthood. India has the highest prevalence of ID of any country with 1.6 million under-five children living with the condition. Despite this, compared with other children, this neglected population is excluded from mainstream disease prevention and health promotion programmes. Our objective was to develop an evidence-based conceptual framework for a needs-based inclusive intervention to reduce the risk of communicable and non-communicable diseases among children with ID in India. From April through to July 2020 we undertook community engagement and involvement activities in ten States in India using a community-based participatory approach, guided by the bio-psycho-social model. We adapted the five steps recommended for the design and evaluation of a public participation process for the health sector. Seventy stakeholders from ten States contributed to the project: 44 parents and 26 professionals who work with people with ID. We mapped the outputs from two rounds of stakeholder consultations with evidence from systematic reviews to develop a conceptual framework that underpins an approach to develop a cross-sectoral family-centred needs-based inclusive intervention to improve health outcomes for children with ID. A working Theory of Change model delineates a pathway that reflected the priorities of the target population. We discussed the models during a third round of consultations to identify limitations, relevance of the concepts, structural and social barriers that could influence acceptability and adherence, success criteria, and integration with existing health system and service delivery. There are currently no health promotion programmes focusing on children with ID in India despite the population being at a higher risk of developing comorbid health problems. Therefore, an urgent next step is to test the conceptual model to determine acceptance and effectiveness within the context of socio-economic challenges faced by the children and their families in the country.