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Revealing the training on intellectual and developmental disabilities among forensic mental health professionals: a survey report

Jennifer C. Sarrett (Center for the Study of Human Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 11 December 2017

156

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the training forensic mental health professionals in the USA receive on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Given the difficulties obtaining accurate prevalence rates of these disabilities in criminal justice settings, it is important to understand how these disabilities are being evaluated and the level of understanding about these disabilities evaluators hold.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was distributed to forensic mental health professionals in the USA that included questions on training opportunities in graduate education, post-graduate forensic training, and professional training opportunities. Participants were also asked about their current work, how they assess I/DD, and their estimates on the percentage of cases they see with I/DD.

Findings

Respondents reported some training that focused heavily on assessment methods. Most respondents estimated between 5 and 25 percent of their cases involving I/DD and reported using a wide range of assessment methods. Finally, many respondents reporting more training needed in this area.

Practical implications

More training is needed for forensic mental health professionals on identifying I/DD. Additionally, professional guidelines on what tools and methods to rely on to identify these disabilities is paramount to ensure homogeneity of methods and, thus, better estimates of overall prevalence in criminal justice settings.

Originality/value

This is the first assessment focused on how forensic mental health professionals are trained to identify I/DD and can be used to improve identification of I/DD in forensic settings.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the respondents for participating in this survey and Dr Denis L. Zavodny for his helpful comments on both the survey and an early draft of this paper.

Citation

Sarrett, J.C. (2017), "Revealing the training on intellectual and developmental disabilities among forensic mental health professionals: a survey report", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 176-187. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-07-2017-0013

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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