Health services increasingly aspire to ensure that all patients share in decision making about their care, but there are many uncertainties about what forms of sharing are practically possible and ethically acceptable in particular circumstances. The uncertainties are particularly acute when patients have learning disabilities.

This study aimed to examine how health professionals currently involve people with learning disabilities in decision-making about their health care, and to explore scope for improvement in the sharing of decision making. It was conducted as part of Anna Sierawska’s PhD programme. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with both (a) learning disability specialists and (b) healthcare professionals who work in more acute healthcare sectors and who do not have special training or expertise in learning disabilities. The interviews investigated healthcare professionals' experiences of working with adults with learning disabilities and their views about how they do and how they might involve those adults in decision-making about their health care.

The insights generated about and from health professionals’ perspectives were used to inform a broader conceptual and ethical analysis of shared decision-making with adults with learning disabilities.


Analysis ongoing


Zoe Skea;