Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio
: 1) Critical Review of Literature: Adding insult to injury: failure to recognise domestic abuse in people with disabilities: a systematic review; 2) Service Improvement Project: Increasing staff confidence and implementation of trauma therapy skills; 3) Main Research Project: Exploration of body perception and body dissatisfaction in young people with intellectual disability.

  • Kate Eden

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


Background: People with intellectual disability (ID) are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their peers, which fuels the need for effective healthy weight management programmes targeted at this population. In order to inform such programmes, more evidence is needed relating to how people with ID perceive their bodies. Method: This study uses qualitative and quantitative methodology to explore body perception and body dissatisfaction in 40 young adults with ID compared to 48 individuals without ID. The Stunkard Figure Rating Scale was used to assess how participants perceived themselves, how they would like to look, and how they conceptualised underweight, healthy-weight and overweight. This rating scale was shown to be a valid and reliable measure when used with this population. Results: Results show that young adults with ID tend to hold positive beliefs about their bodies. Females with ID are likely to perceive their bodies to be smaller than they are and neither males nor females report a desire for an altered body size. The results also suggest that individuals with ID understand what is meant by ‘overweight’, ‘healthy-weight’ and ‘underweight’ although these concepts are qualitatively different compared to those held by people without ID. Furthermore, individuals with ID are unable to apply these body size categories to themselves. Conclusion: It is vital to consider these findings when designing healthy weight management programmes for people with ID. These individuals will need to be supported to understand how concepts of body size apply to themselves before they can move on to make positive choices about their weight management.
Date of Award21 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathy Randle-Phillips (Supervisor), Chris Gillmore (Supervisor) & Maria Loades (Supervisor)

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