Factors influencing the intention of students to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities

Shirli Werner*, Alina Grayzman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Providing adequate care to individuals with intellectual disability (ID) requires the willingness of students in various health and social professions to care for this population upon completion of their studies. The aim of the current study was to examine the factors associated with the intentions of students from various fields to work with individuals with ID, using the framework of the Theory of Planned Behavior. A structured self-administered questionnaire was completed by 512 social work, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, special education, and nursing students. The questionnaire measured students' attitudes toward individuals with ID and toward working with this population, as well as their perceptions of subjective norms, controllability, self-efficacy, prior acquaintance with individuals with ID, and subjective knowledge about ID. Structural equation modeling showed that the students' intentions to work with individuals with ID were predicted by their attitudes and perceptions of subjective norms. Field of study and subjective knowledge were also found to be predictive of behavioral intention. The TPB proved to be a useful framework for examining students' intentions to work with persons with ID. Given the lack of education in the field of ID, as well as the prevailing stigmatic attitudes toward this population, university departments should develop programs aimed at increasing knowledge, promoting positive contact, and reducing the fear attached to working with persons with intellectual disability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2502-2510
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Attitudes
  • Behavioral intention
  • Intellectual disability
  • Knowledge
  • Theory of Planned Behavior


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