Enhancing Capacity to Make Sexuality-Related Decisions: A Case Series with People with an Intellectual Disability

Author(s): Eileen Dukes and Brian McGuire

Department: Kerry Parents and Friends Association

Reported: Submitted to Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability (December 2008).

(31 Jul 2009)
The aim of the study was to apply an intervention to the area of knowledge in order to determine if capacity to consent to sexual contact can be improved using a sexuality education programme with four adults with a moderate intellectual disability. Treatment consisted of individually tailored programmes adapted from Living Your Life (Bustard (2003) – original text by Ann Craft). Treatment was applied to each participant twice weekly for a 10 week period on an individualized and one-to-one basis. The study adopted a single subject design using multiple base-line method. The Sexual Consent and Education Assessment (SCEA, Kennedy, 1993) was used for measurement purposes. The SCEA K-Scale (knowledge) and the S-Scale (safety practices) were administered weekly throughout the baseline, treatment and post-treatment phases of the study. Staff concerns were also assessed using the SCEA Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour Scale. Results indicated that all four participants improved their knowledge in all targeted areas as measured by improvements in K-Scale and S-Scale scores. Staff concerns were not increased as indicated by results on the Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour Scale .Staff reports post intervention indicated increased self-efficacy as a treatment effect. Six month follow up data for three of the participants showed maintenance of scores on the S-Scale and some decay in scores on the K-Scale from post-intervention performance.
Conclusion: Results demonstrate that sexuality education programmes applied to persons with moderate intellectual disability can improve capacity to consent to sexual interaction.

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