Characteristics of adults with intellectual disability requiring inpatient psychiatric treatment.

Dr Sreedharan Geetha Sajith1,2, Dr Ker Chiah Wei1,2

1Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, 2NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore

A significant proportion of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) may have mental health problems including mental illness as well as behavioural problems. Those with severe conditions that put safety of themselves and others at risk may sometimes need inpatient psychiatric treatment. We looked at the characteristics of adults with ID who needed admission to inpatient psychiatric units. The study was conducted at the Institute of Mental Health, a tertiary psychiatric hospital in Singapore.

We conducted a retrospective file review of all adult patients with diagnosis of ID admitted to acute psychiatric wards during a 1-year period.

There were 291 adults with ID who required admission psychiatric wards. Majority (63%) of them were males and their mean age was 39 years (range 19-71 years). Mild ID was the most frequent diagnosis (80%) and most common co-morbid psychiatric diagnosis excluding behaviour problems was psychosis (45%). Physical or verbal aggression (66%) and self-injurious behaviours (14%) were most common primary reasons for admission to hospital.

Our findings suggest that typically, those who need psychiatric admissions were young males with Mild ID and psychosis with aggressive or self-injurious behaviours. These findings are consistent with previous studies on this subject. Our findings may be useful in planning clinical services for adults with ID and mental health problems.


Dr. Sajith is a senior consultant psychiatrist based at the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore. He is a specialist in psychiatry of intellectual disability and worked as a consultant psychiatrist in the United Kingdom before moving to Singapore in 2011. He has played significant role in the development of psychiatric services for people with intellectual disability and autism in Singapore. He has published several research papers in this field and also plays an active role in improving the the quality of life of people with intellectual disability and autism.

Recent Comments
    Recent Comments