Improving the Health of Adults with Intellectual Disability

What is CHAP?

The Comprehensive Health Assessment Program (CHAP) is designed to help minimise the barriers to healthcare for people with intellectual disability by prompting health care and screening.  Developed at The University of Queensland by Professor Nick Lennox, the program is used in Australia by various state governments, as well as the Endeavour Foundation (Qld) and other non-government organizations, and in other countries.

How CHAP works

CHAP is a tool designed to prompt a comprehensive health assessment for adults with intellectual disability.  This may potentially help doctors make better diagnoses, provide appropriate treatment and ultimately ensure an overall better health. The CHAP tool is a two-part questionnaire requiring collaboration between the person with the intellectual disability, their supporter and their GP.  The first part of the questionnaire creates a comprehensive health history and is completed by the parents, paid support staff and/or person with intellectual disability.  The health history is then taken to the person’s GP.  Working with the person and their supporter, the GP fills in the second part of the questionnaire. Here, the GP is prompted to be aware of commonly missed, poorly managed or syndrome specific health conditions and performs a review of the person’s health. On completion of the GP’s review, a health action plan should be agreed upon by the GP in collaboration with those involved in providing support or the person themselves.

Evidence behind CHAP

CHAP has been validated through several Australian studies. Its importance has been recognised by leading international researchers, for example according to Professor Eric Emerson, a respected researcher in the field of intellectual disability, the CHAP study contributes to the world literature the most conclusive evidence that health gain resulted from an intervention. These studies focused on adults with intellectual disability who had high to low support needs, and the results are explained in the following publications:

Lennox N, Bain C, Rey-Conde T, Purdie D, Bush R, Pandeya N. Effects of a comprehensive health assessment programme for Australian adults with intellectual disability: a cluster randomized trial. Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;36(1):139-46.

Lennox N, Bain C, Rey-Conde T, Taylor M, Boyle FM, Purdie DM, et al. Cluster randomized-controlled trial of interventions to improve health for adults with intellectual disability who live in private dwellings Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities. 2010;23(4):303-11.

CHAP updated annually

The CHAP is updated on an annual basis in line with current evidence and national and international guidelines by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. 

For use outside of Australia, please visit