Actors with intellectual disabilities in mental health simulation training

Publication piece on co-producing simulation training courses with actors with intellectual disabilities.

Attoe, C., Billon, G., Riches, S., Marshall-Tate, K., Wheildon, J., & Cross, S. (2017)


  • Access to healthcare services and initiatives is reduced in people with intellectual disabilities. Diagnostic overshadowing and negative attitudes of healthcare professionals towards intellectual disabilities are contributing factors to these limitations.
  • Multiple inquiries have linked a lack of knowledge, skills and awareness of the needs of people with intellectual disabilities in healthcare professionals as a significant contributing factor to these health inequalities.
  • Initial findings suggest that co-production and simulation training may have a role in developing interprofessional healthcare workforces to address health inequalities for people with intellectual disabilities.



People with intellectual disabilities experience poorer health outcomes than the general population, and a significantly increased risk of mental health comorbidity. Their access to healthcare has been consistently shown as inadequate, and their access to mental health support is still largely wanting. Adequate training and education should improve these shortcomings but there is limited evidence available as to the best way to achieve this. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This paper reports on the co-production and co-delivery of a simulation training course to support healthcare professionals to provide care for people with intellectual disabilities, with a particular focus on their mental health needs. This training was designed with actors with intellectual disabilities, who participated as simulated patients in scenarios during the course and subsequently provided feedback on their experience.


This paper focusses on the positive experiences of the simulated patients, reporting on and interpreting their direct feedback on their experience of contributing to the development and delivery of the course and being involved as co-educators.
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