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What is H-CARDD?

The H-CARDD program was developed to address disparities in health status and health care access faced by individuals with developmental disabilities in Ontario, Canada. Individuals with developmental disabilities often have complex health care needs, experience difficulty in accessing appropriate services, and tend to encounter health care providers with little knowledge of how to support them. The overall goal of the H-CARDD program is to monitor and improve the health and health care of Ontarians with developmental disabilities through engagement with researchers, policy makers, health care planners, clinicians, adults with developmental disabilities, and caregivers.

What has H-CARDD done?

The H-CARDD program was established in 2010 by Dr. Yona Lunsky and a team of colleagues and partners. In its first phase (2010-2013), the program focused its efforts on primary health care. The first task was to link information from across government sectors in order to study as large a group of adults with developmental disabilities as possible from all across Ontario.

Through linking information across different government sectors it is now possible to study how over 66,000 adults with developmental disabilities use health care - the largest cohort of its kind in the world. Since creating this cohort, H-CARDD has explored the quality of primary care for those with developmental disabilities in Ontario, based on Canadian guidelines related to this population. With its partners and knowledge users H-CARDD has identified some critical gaps in health care services and some priority groups to study further.

Going forward, H-CARDD is evaluating a population-based intervention, which will increase the quality of periodic health exams for people with developmental disabilities. Through knowledge exchange, a top priority for H-CARDD, previously unavailable research information will be provided to H-CARDD's knowledge user partners. This information will address health care utilization patterns in various areas of health care for over 66,000 Ontarians with developmental disabilities compared to individuals without developmental disabilities.

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Learn More About What We Do

The H-CARDD Atlas

The H-CARDD Atlas gives the big picture on health care and developmental disabilities for over 66,000 adults in our province. The first chapter gives an overview of healthcare issues and the last chapter which pulls it all together. Topics include health profiles and health care use, preventive care, chronic disease management and medication use. 

Atlas snapshots available here


Knowledge to Action

One of our focuses has been improving rates of the annual “health check.” In a recent project, we worked with Family Health Teams to increase rates of “health checks” for patients with DD. We have studied the benefits of this approach, to the team and to the patients. Read more.

We have learned that emergency care use is much higher for those with developmental disabilities than for those without, which is why our team looked at how to improve emergency care. We just completed a project where we supported 3 emergency departments to improve their approach and practice with patients with developmental disabilities. Read more.


H-CARDD Videos


H-CARDD presents the Best Practice Video Series for health care providers who may want to improve their clinical skills when it comes to working with patients with DD. The series includes videos with and without on screen teaching bullets and demonstrates common practice errors and some strategies to help the patient feel more comfortable through medical procedures. You can find this series along with other videos on our YouTube Channel.


We have developed a number of videos about health for people with DD. We also have some videos designed to prepared people with DD for specific procedures.

Subscribe to H-CARDD on YouTube  

Digging Deeper: Understanding H-CARDD Subgroups

Between 2013 and 2017 we took a closer look at 4 subpopulations from our original research with projects focusing on:

Watch a Project Video

Read an H-CARDD Research Snapshot


Healthcare Toolkits for Clinicians

As part of our project with family health teams, we developed a toolkit for primary care providers that includes clinical tools and resources to implement annual health checks for patients with DD.

Similar to our health check toolkit, we developed a parallel toolkit for health care providers working in emergency care settings. This toolkit includes a number of clinical tools to help hospital staff better support patients with DD when they present in the emergency department.


For People with Developmental Disabilities and Families

It is very important to communicate our health issues clearly to health care providers. We developed a few tools to help patients with DD to do this:

About Me Exit Interview Today’s Health Visit


We also designed tip sheets specifically for people with DD that might help with preventative health care or going for health care appointments.

Our "I am..." poster campaign is a reminder to health care providers that people with DD are more than their disability. These posters were originally developed as part of an effort to help health care providers feeling more comfortable support people with DD. 


We share news about the latest research findings, resources and tools through our newsletter campaign H-CARDD Connects. As part of this newsletter series, we have started a series called H-CARDD Conversations, where we connect with experts in the field to discuss health and DD.

In collaboration with Vita Community Services and HANDS the Family Help, we developed practical and engaging newsletters tailored to direct care staff on various health topics, combining key research findings with recommendations and tools.