Exploring the design of a two-way communication aid to support adults with mild intellectual disabilities during primary care consultations

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


People with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience health inequalities that have a significant effect on the length and standard of their lives. Many of these inequalities are preventable, particularly the breakdown in communication between health professionals and patients with ID. Communication aids have been introduced to improve the quality of medical information exchanges, yet they tend to focus on the ability of practitioners to convey their views to patients and not vice versa. Consequently, this thesis explored the design of a two-way communication aid for general practitioners (GPs) and patients with mild ID. The “Development” phase of the framework for complex interventions was used to highlight the need for the proposed aid, including how it may improve current practice. First, a scoping review on the technologies utilised throughout healthcare services was conducted, with the results highlighting a lack of two-way communication aids. Domain experts were then recruited to create an accessible design workshop for participants with mild ID. During this process, they provided their own views on the proposed aid and suggested that a tablet application that extracts medical information from the patient prior to the consultation would help improve communication. A high-tech prototype was developed using these requirements before being embedded within the design workshops. This prototype consisted of an ontology-driven, adaptive questionnaire that enables a wide range of conditions to be included, with only those relevant to the health context of the patient being presented. The ten participants with mild ID felt that the questionnaire would improve consultations yet requested features to support them in accessing appropriate health services. Refinements were made prior to the application being evaluated by caregivers, GPs, and experts. The results indicated that the app could enhance current practice in four ways: improved communication; patient independence; reduced time constraints; and increased diagnostic rates.
Date of Award28 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorMark Dunlop (Supervisor) & Matt-Mouley Bouamrane (Supervisor)

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