Prof’s work advancing nursing makes impact

Photo by Patty Brito on Unsplash

A review advancing knowledge of nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities (DDs) was published in the impactful journal Nursing Open by York University School of Nursing Professor Nazilla Khanlou and went on to be among the top 10 per cent most downloaded papers during its first 12 months of publication.

An image of Nazilla Khanlou
Nazilla Khanlou

The paper, titled “Nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities: Review of literature on barriers and facilitators faced by nurses to provide care,” explores better understanding of notable gaps in knowledge and practice in order to have an impact on caregivers and receivers.

According to the review, individuals with developmental disabilities often contend with health-care systems and services that lack accessibility or better support. As a result, nurses have often reported notable gaps in receiving proper training to better care for people with DDs. There are few opportunities to discover best practice guidelines for those looking to provide care for this demographic.

With the intention of advancing the enhancement and standardization of nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities, the research team looked to identify research evidence, nursing strategies, knowledge gaps, and barriers and facilitators. In doing so, the paper moves towards providing “recommendations addressing access, education, collaboration, communication, use of standardized tools and creating a safe environment” to better help nurses care for people with DDs.

The findings of the review have clearly resonated, given the degree to which it has been accessed and downloaded, which speaks to its efforts to fill a notable knowledge gap in care for an underserved population. Khanlou believes that nursing education in Canada must address that gap.

“We must provide introductory level education and training for all nursing students at the undergraduate level in addressing the complex needs of persons and families with developmental disabilities,” she says. “At the graduate level, more advanced knowledge and specialization should be available for nurses interested in pursuing practice of health promotion and care in the developmental disabilities field.  We can learn from the experiences of nursing in the United Kingdom, where the designation of Learning Disability Nurse exists, and specialized education is provided at the university level.”

The accomplishment of being among the top 10 per cent most downloaded articles in Nursing Open – which is published by influential research publisher Wiley Online Library – builds upon the impact that Khanlou’s extensive career and body of work has already had.

Appointed the inaugural holder of the Ontario Women’s Health Council Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research at York in 2008, Khanlou has used her clinical background in psychiatric nursing to advance research and understanding of many under-represented groups.

Her published articles, book, reports and research – some of which has been funded by organizations like the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council – have explored the well-being and mental health needs of specific populations. Youth and women in multicultural and immigrant-receiving settings have been a particular focus, as she has written about gender-based violence, patient-centred care for women, identity-related factors affecting the mental health of immigrants and refugees, and more.