Assessing Pain in Adults with Intellectual Disability: a Descriptive and Qualitative Evaluation of Ratings and Impressions Among Care-Providers

  • Allison Weiss RothschildEmail author
  • Joseph N. Ricciardi
  • James K. Luiselli


Research has documented that pain and physical discomfort commonly occur in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). However, many individuals are unable to communicate their distress and achieve symptom relief. The present study was a descriptive and qualitative evaluation of care providers to identify how they detected pain in the adults they supported at a human services organization including the type of pain indicators and influence of communication ability on reliably reporting pain. The study combined quantitative and qualitative ratings within a cross-validation descriptive methodology that also elicited care provider recommendations for improving pain assessment. We report findings, summarize common themes, and suggest future directions for clinical practice and research.


Intellectual and developmental disabilities Pain assessment Qualitative research methodology 



The authors acknowledge the continued research support of Dr. David A. Jordan, President, and Dr. Kathleen M. Jordan, Executive Vice President-Chief Executive Officer, Severn Hills Foundation and Affiliates.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All of the participants agreed and consented to completing the questionnaire.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seven Hills Community ServicesWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Melmark New EnglandAndoverUSA

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