Research launched into respiratory health of adults with learning difficulties

A new study has been launched to find out whether family carers of adults with learning difficulties in Scotland find pulse oximeters useful for monitoring respiratory health.

Principal investigator Dr Janet Finlayson said that COVID-19 has sparked an urgent need to monitor the respiratory health of vulnerable people and they are now trying to recruit participants.

Adults with learning disabilities are much more likely to experience respiratory system health problems which can lead to serious illness or death.

Researchers say pulse oximeters (pictured) – non-invasive and painless tests that measure oxygen levels in the blood – may particularly benefit adults with learning disabilities, who can experience difficulties communicating discomfort or ill health.

Dr Finlayson and Dr Nicola Roberts, from GCU’s Department of Nursing and Community Health, along with Dr Valeria Frighi at the University of Oxford, were awarded £5,000 funding from the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund to carry out the study.

Dr Finlayson said: “Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic has warranted the urgent need to monitor the respiratory health of vulnerable people. People with learning disabilities are particularly at risk of developing respiratory health problems. Our study, which focuses on home-based monitoring, will highlight this.”

If you know or work with someone who cares for or supports a relative with learning disabilities at home in Scotland or just want to find out more please get in touch with Dr Finlayson by emailing her at or call her on 0141 331 3083.

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