Purpose. This study was designed to investigate general practitioners' (GPs) beliefs about the perceived importance of their role in, and their satisfaction with, providing healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities. The identification of healthcare issues with potential for improvement was assessed using gap analysis and an opportunity-guided method. Method. A cross-sectional census survey by a mail-structured questionnaire recruited 331 GPs (response rate = 16%) who provided information on healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities in 2006 in Taiwan. Results. The results indicated that GPs considered their role in providing healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities to be important (mean score 7.2 - 8.3). However, the respondents generally did not feel satisfied (mean score 4.6 - 5.5) with their achievements in treating patients with intellectual disabilities. We found that the gender and educational level of the respondents were statistically correlated to the perceived importance they considered their work to have, while the factors of age, medical practice setting and training experience in intellectual disability were statistically correlated to GPs' perceived satisfaction in providing healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities (p < 0.05). Those healthcare issues of 'training and experience in intellectual disability', 'multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral cooperation', 'adequate competence in disability diagnosis', 'genetic consulting services', 'duty of disease prevention and health promotion', and 'adequate medical consultation time' were the five most promising areas to be improved in healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities according to the opportunity-guided analysis. Conclusions. This study highlights that health professionals need to examine carefully healthcare issues pertaining to people with ID, and that much more effort is required to develop appropriate healthcare policies based on the opportunity-guided health issues identified here.
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