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Exploring spirituality and quality of life in individuals who are deaf and have intellectual disabilities.

PURPOSE: While positive contributions of religion and spirituality (R/S) to quality of life (QOL) are confirmed by a growing body of evidence, only limited research has involved people with intellectual disabilities and so far, no studies included prelingually deaf individuals with intellectual disabilities. This study explores the role of R/S in people with intellectual disabilities and deafness living in three therapeutic living communities specifically adapted to their needs.

METHODS: Forty-one individuals (mean age: 46.93 years, 43.9% female) with prelingual deafness and mild to moderate intellectual disability participated in structured sign language interviews adapted to their cognitive-developmental level, regarding their QOL, individual spirituality and participation in spiritual practices in the community. Participants' QOL was assessed with an established short measure for QOL (EUROHIS-QOL) adapted to easy-to-understand sign language. With 21 participants, qualitative interviews were conducted. In addition, proxy ratings from caregivers were obtained.

RESULTS: The participants' ratings of their individual spirituality (r = 0.334; p = 0.03) and spiritual practices-in-community (r = 0.514; p = 0.00) correlated positively with their self-reported QOL. Qualitative findings illustrate the importance of R/S and give insights into R/S concepts and practices.

CONCLUSIONS: Personal spirituality and participating in spiritual practices are positively related to self-reported quality of life in deaf individuals with intellectual disability (ID). As a consequence, access to spiritual and religious services should be included in comprehensive programs and society at large.

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