To investigate how doctors can improve the advice and education about sexuality and contraception given to young people with mild intellectual disability (IQ :50-70).
Young people attending special needs secondary schools (IQ: 50-70) were interviewed. Pupils with a known history of sexual abuse were excluded.
A total of 17 of the 57 potential candidates were excluded. Of the remaining 40 pupils, 28 agreed to take part (13 male; age range: 15-18 years, average IQ: 58). Of the 28 participants, 19 had been in a relationship, 5 had experience with sexual intercourse and 11 used contraception. Just as in other studies, the participants seemed to have less knowledge, and less experience than young people of their age without a disability, but did show interest. They were at increased risk because of inappropriate use of contraception and had limited social resilience. Only knowledge about the pill and condoms was fair to good. Interest and knowledge seemed greater in those young people in a relationship. Poor verbal skills hampered their understanding of the questions asked and of the information offered, and limited their ability to express feelings and opinions. Those young people in a relationship wanted to choose their own form of contraception.
In this group of vulnerable young people, provision of sexual education by the doctor at the right moment using simple language and repetition, can contribute to the timely and safe use of contraceptives.Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.