Capacity of adults with intellectual disabilities to consent to sexual relationships

Murphy, G.H. and O'Callaghan, A.C. (2004) Capacity of adults with intellectual disabilities to consent to sexual relationships. Psychological Medicine, 34 (7). pp. 1347-1357. ISSN 0033-2917 . (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291704001941

Abstract

For people with intellectual disabilities there is a difficult balance to be struck between empowering people to claim their sexual rights and protecting them from abuse. Hypothetically, services should be guided by whether a particular person with intellectual disabilities has the capacity to consent to sexual relationships. However, there has been little agreement on how to define such capacity. This study examines the issue of capacity to consent to sexual relationships using a functional approach. Method. Adults with intellectual disabilities (n = 60) and young people presumed in law able to consent (n = 60) were assessed for their sexual knowledge and vulnerability to abuse. Results. Adults with intellectual disabilities were significantly less knowledgeable about almost all aspects of sex and appeared significantly more vulnerable to abuse, having difficulty at times distinguishing abusive from consenting relationships. Nevertheless, some adults with intellectual disabilities scored highly on all measures, especially if they had relatively high IQs and had had sex education. Conclusions. The reasons for the poorer knowledge and increased vulnerability of people with intellectual disabilities are discussed and it is recommended that they should have on-going access to sex education. Implications of the findings for definitions of capacity to consent to sexual relationships are considered.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Mental retardation; Informed consent; People; Abuse; Decision
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV1568 Disability studies
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Depositing User: Jo Ruffels
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 15:48
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2013 14:37
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/32243 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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