Jonathan Kennedy – Swansea University
A health check includes screening for conditions like diabetes, general health measures like cholesterol and blood pressure checks and medication reviews.
Annual health checks were introduced in Wales in 2006 for all adults on the social services register with learning disability. However, it is known that not all adults with learning disability do have annual health checks.
The team looked at the GP records for 30,342 people with a learning disability between the years 2006-2017.
On the 30,342 people only 25% (7,614) had a record in their GP notes that they had ever been given a health check. The death rate for those who did not have a health check was higher than for those who did have health checks.
Having a health check was most beneficial if people had them at a younger age (age 18-50) where the risk of death was half that compared to people of the same age who did not have a health check.
This work shows that a health check can reduce mortality for people with learning disabilities, especially if started young and especially for people with autism and those with epilepsy.
The research team hope this work can help encourage GPs, families and carers of those with learning disabilities to ensure they have a regular health check.