Health promotion for adults with intellectual disabilities

Adults with intellectual disabilities have an increased risk of developing physical as well as mental ill-health. This target group on average has poor dietary habits, low physical activity and a higher prevalence of obesity compared to the general population. Effective health programmes for this target group are lacking.


To develop and evaluate a multi-component programme to promote physical activity and healthy diet among adults with intellectual disabilities targeting both residents and staff in community residences.

The programme

The twelve-month programme includes three components:

  1. Appointment of a health ambassador among staff
  2. A study circle for staff - where they discuss health promotion work routines and practices
  3. A health course for the residents


  • Work routines in residences assessed by questionnaire
  • Physical activity of residents measured objectively
  • Diet quality of residents assessed by digital photography
  • Anthropometry of residents
  • Satisfaction with life of residents assessed by structured interview

Process evaluation:

Interviews are conducted with managers and health ambassadors to assess barriers and facilitators of implementation, and fidelity to the program components is monitored.


The programme has been implemented in 30 community residences in Stockholm County and has been evaluated in a cluster-randomized controlled trial. In another quasi-experimental study including 84 residences in 8 municipalities we have assessed the implementation of the study circle for staff component and its effect on work routines.

Results and further work

Results have been encouraging regarding physical activity, but further development is needed regarding improvements in diet. A manual (in Swedish) has been produced and the programme is being implemented in several municipalities throughout Sweden.


Project contact person:

Liselotte Schäfer Elinder

Adjungerad professor
Schäfer Elinder
K9 Global folkhälsa
Maja Rudolphson