The close relationships of people with intellectual disabilities: A qualitative study

Faye Sullivan, Keith Bowden, Karen McKenzie, Ethel Quayle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background Positive interpersonal relationships have been found to enhance an individual's quality of life. However, people with intellectual disabilities (PWID) often have restricted social networks, and little is known about their views on close social relationships. The study aimed to explore how this group perceives and experiences close relationships. Materials and Methods Ten (6 = men 4 = women) PWID participated. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, and analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Results The results report on three of five themes drawn from a larger qualitative study: ‘Relationships feeling safe and being useful’; ‘Who's in charge?’ and ‘Struggling for an ordinary life’. Conclusions Close relationships are valued and desired by PWID, but a variety of barriers inhibit their development and maintenance. This includes the failure of others to value, accept and appropriately support the independence and relationships of PWID. Potential ways of addressing these issues are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-184
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number2
Early online date11 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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