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R2 Longitudinal Health Intellectual Disability Study

The Longitudinal Health & Intellectual Disability Study (LHIDS) consists of two research projects exploring health behavior and falls prevention among adults with intellectual disabilities (ID). These studies address both general health issues for the ID population as well as specific interventions for minimizing falls among adults with ID.

R2a. Exploring the effects of healthy choices for individuals with intellectual disability

In the general population, adherence to simple health behaviors such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, alcohol in moderation, and a healthy diet, may prevent a host of negative health outcomes. Studies that track a representative group of people across time, such as the Framingham Heart Study, are instrumental in establishing national guidelines on health promotion and disease prevention. Up until now, no such study has ever been undertaken for persons with ID. The lack of longitudinal data sets limits our ability to meet the health needs of people with ID.

Working in partnership with Special Olympics International (SOI) and with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a research team headed by Drs. James Rimmer and Kelly Hsieh at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities have begun a study to follow a cohort of 1700-2000 adults with disabilities over a five year period, creating health knowledge never before available.

The specific aims of the study are to examine:

  • Changes across time in the prevalence of five health behaviors (physical activity, dietary habits, smoking, alcohol intake, and oral hygiene) and their impact on health and function in adults with ID by gender, age group, level of ID, and residential setting.
  • The impact of baseline musculoskeletal biomarkers (i.e., bone mineral density, strength, balance) across time on health (i.e., with particular reference to falls) and function (i.e., functional limitations) in adults with ID.
  • The impact of health behavior changes across time on psychosocial well-being and community participation in adults with ID.

What we learn from this study will have important implications for medical service delivery, risk prevention, and health policy for persons with ID.

If you are a caregiver for a person with ID who is 18 years or older living in the U.S. and would like to learn more about participating in the project, click here.

R2b. A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce the Risk of Falls in Adults with ID

The second LHIDS study will test a strength and balance intervention aimed at preventing accidental falls for persons with ID. This randomized control trial will enhance our knowledge of about evidence-based falls prevention programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. The aim of the study is to reduce risk of recurrent falls in adults with ID who have a history of falls by improving musculoskeletal health (strength & balance) through a 6-month strength/balance or walking intervention.

Together, these two LHIDS studies will generate important knowledge regarding the health of adults with ID across time. Research findings can serve to better inform consumers and their families, health care professionals, and disability policymakers in regard to health promotion efforts for persons with ID.

For more information about Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities (RRTC/ADD) click here.


The Longitudinal Health & Intellectual Disability Study (LHIDS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago is part of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities: Lifespan Health and Function (see link above) funded from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Grant (#H133B080009), UIC IRB #s 2008-0861 and 2009-0011.



  • James Rimmer, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
  • Kueifang (Kelly) Hsieh, Co-Investigator
  • Tamar Hellar, Co-Investigator
  • Sumithra Murthy, Project Coordinator
  • I-Min Lee, Consultant


  • Kueifang (Kelly) Hsieh, Principal Investigator
  • James Rimmer, Co-Principal Investigator
  • Sumithra Murthy, Project Coordinator

Graduate students

  • Theresa Vidalon, MSW
  • Patrick Yep, BS