Rowan Virtua Integrated Special Needs (RISN) Center

Initiative: Increasing Access to Physical, Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Among Women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)
Grant years: 2021–22, 2022–23

Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) need personalized care and preparation for routine women’s health examinations to reduce stigma about the necessity of sexuality education, deescalate fears, and address potential histories of sexual trauma. Many medical providers are unaware of this need, contributing to health inequities among women with IDD. 

Awarded IHC grants in 2021 and 2022, this initiative provides training and outreach to eliminate disparities in access to women’s physical, sexual, and reproductive health care among patients with IDD. The program’s goal is to elevate the standard of female health care, remove barriers, and address disparities in sex education, sexual abuse, and consensual sexuality among women with IDD. Additionally, it will focus on expanding access and information to contraception, screening for cervical and breast cancer and sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy among women with these disabilities.

The project’s focus during the second grant period is to expand surveys to include women with guardians, develop innovative ways to prepare individuals with IDD for women’s health exams, update training materials for medical students and providers, establish an accessible web-based platform for materials developed, and pilot innovations through partner medical providers.

RISN’s partners in this initiative are the ARC of New Jersey, the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, Inspira Health, and the Rowan Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.