Health Promotion for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: a Multi-Component Intervention in Community Residences – Sweden


The risk of ill-health is increased in people with intellectual disabilities (ID), partly due to physical inactivity and an unbalanced diet. The intervention aimed to promote healthy behaviours, i.e. physical activity and healthy diet among people with mild to moderate ID living in community residences in Stockholm County, as well as staff work routines by targeting both residents and staff. The intervention is based on the Social Cognitive Theory and involved activities both to strengthen the individual and to influence the social and physical context, through three components: 1) appointment of a health ambassador in each residence and network meetings; 2) a 10 session study circle for caregivers; and 3) a 10 session health course for residents. The programme took 12 to 16 months to complete and was designed to be compatible with ordinary work routines in community residencies. The intervention started with an information meeting explaining the programme intended for to all caregivers and managers of the residences. A health ambassador was appointed in each residence who attended network meetings to improve health promotion competence. The role of the ambassadors was to inspire colleagues. The study circle for the caregivers intended to increase knowledge in nutrition, physical activity and health. During each 90 minute session the staff discussed a theme related to health and how to change work routines. Adults with mild to moderate ID living in community residences were eligible for inclusion and were included if at least three individuals in each residence agreed to participate. Recruitment took place between May 2009 and February 2010.

The intervention was developed and evaluated by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and the Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine in Stockholm County Council. It is designed to be implemented by local staff in residences and in the municipality, based on a manual. A significant intervention effect was found for physical activity, with an average increase of 1608 steps per day among participants in the intervention group compared to control. Work routines improved significantly in the intervention group.


Additional information:

(last accessed in March 2017)

Download full PDF

Life Cycle Stages: Older People (>65 yrs) | The Young Old (50-65 yrs) | Work Life | 
Main Settings: care homes | community | 
Specific Topics: nutrition | physical activity | 

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.