The experiences of intimate relationships by people with intellectual disabilities: a qualitative study.J Appl Res Intellect Disabil 2014; 27(6):531-41JA
People with intellectual disabilities face attitudinal and service barriers when attempting to form intimate relationships. To date, their experiences and views are under-represented in the existing evidence base.
The aim of this study was to carry out an interpretative phenomenological analysis exploring the experience of intimate relationships for nine adults with intellectual disabilities.
Four main themes were identified: desiring relationships; expressing sexuality; having relationships; and who has control? Together these themes demonstrated that intimate relationships were desired and important to all participants, fulfilling a variety of their needs. In addition, participants faced a number of challenges related to intimate relationships.
The findings raise questions about how best to support people with intellectual disabilities with sexuality and intimate relationships. Implications for caregivers and services are discussed.