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Improving public health and reducing health inequalities for people with learning disabilities

12 October 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 18

Although each person's life experience is different, research shows that variations in health and wellbeing can also happen because the opportunities one person has to manage their risk of developing some conditions is less than their peers (NHS England, 2021). For example, for conditions such as breast and cervical cancer, research indicates that people with a learning disability are less likely to access early identification services (Allen et al, 2018; NHS England, 2021). These people are therefore at risk of dying at a younger age than their peers, if diagnosis happens at an advanced stage of disease, and they are unable to maximise the benefits from prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment options (NHS England, 2021).

This article considers learning disability through the lens of health inequality. By exploring how learning disabilities can increase the likelihood of early death and prolonged illness, the article will outline why some people in society can access services for risk identification, prevention and treatment more easily than others and thereby remain healthier for longer.

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