Sexuality and the voices of adults with intellectual disabilities: A systematic review.

Michael Brown, Edward Mccann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
1051 Downloads (Pure)


There is a growing and evolving research evidence base regarding sexuality issues and adults with intellectual disabilities. Individuals can face challenges, including the right to express their sexuality and to access necessary education and supports.

This systematic review explores sexuality experiences, the views and opinions of adults with intellectual disabilities and highlights areas for future practice developments.

Methods and procedures
A comprehensive search of relevant databases from January 2006 to December 2016 was carried out. Included studies had to address specific criteria including: peer reviewed papers, the use of appropriate research methods, and focused exclusively on the individual views and opinions of people with an intellectual disability. The search of relevant databases yielded 230 hits. Following the application of explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria, 23 papers were deemed suitable for the review.

Outcomes and results
The data were analysed and key themes were identified that included: autonomy v’s risk of harm, knowledge and sexuality, relationships and intimacy, self-determination and taking control, and encouragement and supports.

Conclusions and implications
Adults with intellectual disabilities need education and support to express their sexuality and to meet individual needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-138
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date03 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


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