The following is a summary of “Barriers to Palliative Care Access in Patients With Intellectual Disability: A Scoping Review,” published in the December 2022 issue of Pain and Symptom Management by Velepucha-Iniguez, et al.

The disparities in palliative care access for people with intellectual disabilities were poorly understood. For a study, researchers sought to pinpoint the current obstacles preventing patients with intellectual disabilities from receiving palliative care (PC).

Along with manual journal searches, they reviewed the literature on articles that have appeared since 2014 using three databases (MEDLINE, Biomed Central, and Elsevier Scopus). Peer-reviewed papers using quantitative and qualitative research approaches that were authored in English and Spanish were included in the review. Participants included people with intellectual disabilities and medical professionals with palliative care experience or who had dealt with people with intellectual disabilities.

A total of 22 studies satisfied the requirements for selection. The hurdles included under-referral to palliative care, poor access, communication, and a need for more expertise & awareness among medical providers.

Referrals to PC for patients with intellectual disabilities were uncommon. Health professionals and caregivers needed to communicate better since they only sometimes knew when to refer someone. Additionally, training was required for healthcare professionals in PC, pain management, death preparation, and opioid usage. There was a need for more study and instruction on the requirements for palliative care and treating people with intellectual impairments.