Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP


Throughout their careers, physicians, particularly those in primary care settings, can expect to treat patients with intellectual disability (ID) across the lifespan. Nevertheless, little attention is given to preparing medical students to effectively treat patients with ID through education and clinical training opportunities. The purpose of this study was to examine how knowledge and attitudes toward patients with ID may impact analogue clinical decision-making at different stages of physician education and career. Included in the review of the current literature is research relating to physician attitudes, education, and clinical decision-making; the biological, psychological, and social considerations in treating patients with ID; and an overview of theoretical models relevant to the development of attitudes and approaches to providing medical treatment. Medical students, interns, residents and attending primary care physicians were recruited to complete a series of online questionnaires, including a demographics survey, a knowledge quiz, an explicit measure of attitudes toward patients with disabilities, and a clinical case vignette accompanied by a rating scale regarding clinical decision-making. The general outcome of this research found that there was no significant interaction between physicians’ level of training and patients’ level of ID severity when specifically examining those with mild ID, moderate ID, or typical cognitive functioning based on the variables of physician knowledge, attitudes, and analogue clinical decision-making. However, interactions that were perceived as valuable with members of the ID population related to more positive attitudes toward people with disabilities, which may in turn relate to the quality of patient care. As such, future studies may wish to focus on the influence of provider attitudes on patient and caregiver satisfaction.

Included in

Psychology Commons