Interview with Dr. Meghann Lloyd
Ontario Tech University
What do these research findings mean for Special Olympics?
This is a significant piece of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of participating in Special Olympics. There have been smaller studies over the years providing preliminary evidence of the impact of Special Olympics, but this is a population-level, well-controlled study demonstrating a 49% risk reduction in clinical depression for Special Olympics athletes.
This could mean that participation in Special Olympics has a positive impact on the mental health of young adults with IDD.
Why is this study important?
Evidence-based, affordable, non-pharmacological, accessible health promoting interventions are needed, for all populations, but particularly for people with IDD. This study found that participation in Special Olympics, a relatively common, inexpensive community-based program reduces the risk of depression in young adults with IDD. Hopefully, this builds awareness of the impact of Special Olympics in the health domain.
What’s next in your research?
We are currently looking at funding options to facilitate the analysis of more of the data. There are more questions to be answered. For example, there are more health conditions we could look at, for example cardiovascular disease, we also would like to examine different age groups, children and older adults for example; and ideally, we would really like these results to be replicated by other researchers in a different part of the world, that would increase our confidence in our findings.