Barriers in health care access faced by children with intellectual disabilities living in rural Uttar Pradesh

Jubin Varghese, Nathan Grills, Kaaren Mathias


Purpose: People with disability in rural India face multiple barriers accessing healthcare; our hypothesis is that children with intellectual disability suffer the same but little is known about the barriers faced by them. The objectives of the study were to identify the health seeking behaviours of families with children with intellectual disabilities and the barriers they faced accessing healthcare.

Methods: This qualitative study involved interviewing caregivers of children with intellectual disability from a pre-existing community development project in the Sahadoli Kadim block of rural Uttar Pradesh. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with the local practitioners frequented by these caregivers.

Results: Barriers identified were grouped under cognitive, structural and financial barriers which were found to be consistent with the Health Care Access Barrier Model (Carrillo, et al., 2011; WHO, 2011). Cognitive barriers included caregivers being unable to identify the complex health needs of their children. Caregivers lacked appropriate knowledge of intellectual disability, with doctors failing to educate them. Structural and financial barriers encompassed poor availability of healthcare providers and contributed to poor access to specialists. Caregivers had no information about government financial aid and healthcare providers did not refer them to these.

Conclusion: Children with intellectual disabilities are forced to live with a poor quality of life because of cognitive, structural and financial barriers they face in accessing health care. Results are specific to children with intellectual disability in rural Sahadoli Kadim and could be used to inform policies and strategies to reduce disparities in health care access for these children.

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