Between 1% and 2% of the U.S. population has an intellectual disability (ID) and often experience disparities in health care. Communication patterns and sedation use for routine medical procedures are important aspects of care for this population. We explored physicians' communication patterns and sedation use in caring for patients with significant levels of ID through a mailed survey of 1,400 physicians among seven specialties in outpatient settings (response rate = 61.0%). Among physicians who saw at least one patient with significant levels of ID in an average month, 74.8% reported usually/always communicating primarily with someone other than the patient. Among specialists, 85.5% (95% CI: 80.5%–90.5%) reported doing so, compared to 69.9% (95% CI: 64.4%–75.4%) for primary care physicians (p < 0.001). Also, 11.4% reported sedating at least one patient with significant levels of ID for a routine procedure. Three quarters of physicians reported communicating primarily with persons other than the patient usually or always—an approach that, in some instances, may not align with best medical practice. The percentage of physicians who report sedating at least one individual is associated with significant ID and the physician's volume of patients with significant ID.

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