Adolescents with intellectual disability have been shown to have high levels of unrecognised disease and inadequate health screening/promotion than the general population. We aimed to improve the healthcare of these adolescents. We undertook a parallel-group cluster randomised controlled trial of a combined health and educational intervention

The Ask Project was taught in special schools and special education units in mainstream schools in South-East Queensland. It was based on the “Ask Health Diary”, a copy of which was provided to families who were also asked to take their young person for a comprehensive health review using the CHAP tool. While some teachers thought the diary was too difficult for those students with more severe disabilities, our findings indicate that the Ask Health Diary provides a sound curriculum framework  for teachers, adolescents and parents/carers to work together to promote self-determination and better health outcomes for young people who have an intellectual disability.

Compared to the usual care group carers reported the adolescents from the intervention group were significantly more likely to go to the doctor on their own, ask questions and explain their health problems to the doctor without help. Analysis of the GP data for these adolescents, collected from the 286 practices involved in this study, found that adolescents allocated to receive the health intervention were more likely to receive sensory testing, to have their blood pressure checked and weight recorded. The findings suggest improved healthcare autonomy from this educational initiative based on Ask Health Diary and enhanced health care delivery consistent with finding from RCTs in adults with intellectual disability using the CHAP.

The size and uniqueness of this dataset means that analysing specific variables may result in many interesting and yet unpublished findings on adolescents with intellectual disability. To date we have explored medication use, obesity, injuries, parenting stress and the psychopathology of hospitalized adolescents.