Town Hall: Women and Mothers With Developmental Disabilities: Priorities for Action
What is it about?
Research has shown that women with developmental disabilities have poorer medical and psychiatric outcomes than women without developmental disabilities, particularly with regards to reproductive cancer screening and perinatal health. These women also experience economic and social discrimination based on both their gender and developmental disability status, which makes them especially vulnerable to inequities.
In January 2015, researchers studying the health and health care of women and mothers with developmental disabilities in Ontario hosted an interactive Town Hall to discuss findings related to the following questions:
- What are the fertility rates, pregnancy care and outcomes of women with developmental disabilities compared to women without developmental disabilities?
- Are women with developmental disabilities at higher risk of antipsychotic medications side effects (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure and blood clots), compared to men with developmental disabilities?
- What factors could explain inequities in uptake of breast and cervical cancer screening in women with developmental disabilities, compared to women without developmental disabilities?
What did we learn?
This free and interactive Town Hall was broadcast to 27 Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) sites across Ontario and to 49 live webcast connections (OTN and Adobe Connect). The overall goal was to engage in a discussion with H-CARDD's key knowledge users about these findings and about priorities for action in order to improve the health and health care of women and mothers with developmental disabilities.
A key theme coming out of this Town Hall was the importance of using a gender lens when addressing the health and health care of individuals with developmental disabilities. Women with developmental disabilities are less likely to receive breast and cervical cancer screening and are more likely to have poorer health in key areas and to experience negative health outcomes, particularly for psychiatric and perinatal health care.
Participants in the Town Hall also helped articulate a call to action to develop a health agenda specifically for women with developmental disabilities with a particular focus on the need for:
- Identifying strategies that will inform the application of a gender lens for the health and health care of women with developmental disabilities.
- Training and resources for health care providers to improve their capacity to support women with developmental disabilities.
- Resources for women with developmental disabilities to help them better manage their health care.
- Ensuring that the voices of women with developmental disabilities are reflected in Ontario's women's health agenda.
- Further research regarding the unique health care needs of women and mothers with developmental disabilities
Read more in the Town Hall report
A detailed report with a particular focus on the discussion of research findings in relation to the research questions, and the priorities for action is available for download.
Watch a video of the Town Hall
Please click on the picture below to watch a video recording of the Town Hall on health and healthcare usage of women and mothers with developmental disabilities.
Click on the picture to access the video.
Use the passcode: hcardd
Virginie Cobigo (PhD, C. Psych) is an assistant professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, and a clinical psychologist. She has experience in working with persons with developmental disabilities in Canada, France, and England. Her research aims to build evidence to support improvements in services for adults with developmental disabilities.
Simone Vigod (MD, MSc, FRPC) is a psychiatrist and a scientist at Women's College Hospital, Toronto. She is an assitant professor in the deparment of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.Her research is focused on optimizing outcomes for women with mental illness during pregnancy and the post partum period.
Hilary Brown (PhD, MSc) is a postdoctoral fellow at Women's College Hospital, studying the health of mothers with developmental disabilities and their infants.
Natasha Plourde (BSc) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa, studying the uptake of cancer screening in women with developmental disabilities.