Parental home‐based pulse oximetry monitoring for adults with intellectual disabilities at risk of serious respiratory problems including COVID‐19: a brief report

J. Finlayson*, N. Roberts, T. Holt, J. Roast, M. McCardle, M. Parsonage, K. Slade, C. Sellers, V. Frighi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at high risk of developing respiratory health issues. The COVID‐19 pandemic has compounded this, with serious consequences, and for some, death. Despite home‐based oxygen saturation monitoring being recommended for people with ID, there is a stark lack of evidence in the literature on its feasibility. Method: We conducted 3‐day baseline home‐based oxygen saturation monitoring, using pulse oximeters, with eight parents of nine adults with ID in Scotland. Two eligible parents also completed a further 2 weeks of monitoring, and returned an evaluation questionnaire on its feasibility. Results: Baseline mean readings for eight adults with ID were within the normal range (%Sp02 ≥ 95), and for another one 94%. Fluctuations over the 3‐day assessment period were experienced by six of these individuals. However, these variations were within limits which are not dangerous (lowest reading 92%), implying that parental home‐based pulse oximetry monitoring is likely to be safe for adults with ID. The two parents who completed the evaluation found home‐based pulse oximetry monitoring to be easy/very easy to do, and effective/very effective. Conclusions: This is the first research study, albeit with a very small sample, to report on the potential feasibility of parental home‐based pulse oximetry monitoring for adults with ID. Home‐based pulse oximetry monitoring appears to be safe in adults with ID at risk of developing serious respiratory problems, and not difficult for their parents to do. There is an urgent need to replicate this work, using a larger sample, to promote home‐based respiratory health monitoring more widely for people with ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-699
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Early online date12 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research published by MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund, UK.


  • intellectual disabilities
  • oxygen saturation
  • parent-carers
  • pulse oximetry
  • respiratory health monitoring


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