The efforts of direct support professionals to facilitate inclusion: The role of psychological determinants and work setting

E. Venema, S. Otten, C. Vlaskamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Various studies have found that direct support professionals (DSPs) play an important role in determining the degree to which people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are included in society. However, less research has been conducted on the psychological processes that may influence the behavioural intentions of DSPs to actually engage with and invest effort in supporting their clients' inclusion. Five possible psychological variables are identified in the literature: attitudes, social norms, experienced competencies, identity and meta‐evaluation. In our research, we tested whether these processes influence the (intended) efforts DSPs make to facilitate their clients' inclusion.

A structured questionnaire was sent to 927 DSPs working in one of three different locations (an ordinary non‐segregated setting, a reversed non‐segregated setting and a residential facility). Of these, 336 DSPs completed the questionnaire.

Several variables revealed differences between the three locations, specifically in efforts to facilitate inclusion, attitudes, social norms, experienced competencies and professional identity. Looking at the overall means, we found (relatively) high scores for the experienced competencies, role identity and meta‐evaluation. In contrast, the means were relatively negative regarding the DSPs' attitudes to inclusion and their assumed social norms.

Direct support professionals' efforts to facilitate inclusion depend on their attitude towards inclusion, the experienced competencies, their role identity, the DSPs' meta‐evaluation and, indirectly through attitudes, also on the assumed social norms of the relevant stakeholders. Organizations responsible for supporting people with ID and which may want their DSPs to make greater efforts to facilitate inclusion should pay attention to these psychological variables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)970-979
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2015

Cite this