Public perceptions of intellectual disability in a shantytown community in Lima, Peru

Michele S. O'Shea, J. Maziel Girón, Lilia Cabrera, Andrés G. Lescano, Douglas L. Taren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Disability is the result of interactions between biological and environmental factors including the physical, economic, and social barriers imposed on an individual by society. In low and middle-income countries, limited attention has been given to the situation of individuals with intellectual disabilities, who remain seriously neglected. Given the lack of resources available to address mental disorders, it is essential to examine the role of socioeconomic and socio-cultural factors in the lives of these individuals. We conducted interviews of key informants and community members in a shantytown community in Lima, Peru, to explore public knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes regarding intellectual disability. Findings indicated that the most important concern for community members was the longstanding issues associated with poverty. There was a profound lack of awareness of intellectual disability among the general population and an absence of social integration for these individuals. However, interviewees also recognized the productive potential of persons with intellectual disabilities provided they received currently inaccessible support services. The results suggest that educational efforts and intervention strategies must be mindful of the challenges of chronic poverty in order to successfully facilitate the social integration of individuals with intellectual disabilities into the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability
  • Intellectual disability
  • Policy
  • Poverty
  • Social integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Public perceptions of intellectual disability in a shantytown community in Lima, Peru'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this