Kudos to PhD student Michelle Franklin and her mentor Sharron Docherty for the submission of their Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar application entitled “Examination of the Transition into Adulthood for Individuals with Low Cognitive Ability through a Life Course Perspective.” This proposal is for a two-year period with a start date of April 1, 2018.
Of all people with disabilities, those with low cognitive ability experience some of the greatest health and social disparities. They have more physical health needs than the general public and develop chronic illnesses earlier. They are almost four times more likely to have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder and their rates of being sexually assaulted are greater than seven times those who are typically developing. They are underrepresented in the work force. Their families have increased stressors and responsibilities. Those from racial/ethnic minorities are further disproportionately affected. Much of the research that exists for this population is cross-sectional with non-random sampling, specific to disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome), and focus on childhood or, to a much lesser extent, adulthood. This gap limits the ability of clinicians and researchers to understand the impact of low cognitive ability during adolescence and into adulthood and how to intervene to help these individuals and their families achieve their optimal health and well-being trajectory. This secondary analysis will help to fill this gap by examining those with low cognitive ability longitudinally across the critical period of adolescence, emerging adulthood, and young adulthood from a life course perspective.
The goal will be to utilize the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health database to characterize health status, health care utilization, psychosocial functioning, and socioeconomic functioning in adolescents with low cognitive ability across the trajectory of transition into adulthood and determine the family, parental, and adolescent factors, particularly adolescent race/ethnicity, associated with transition outcomes.