Document Type



Patients and families experiencing developmental disabilities (DDs) may lack trust in physicians due to negative experiences in healthcare. DDs include conditions impairing physical, learning, language, or behavior areas, beginning during the developmental period and impacting daily functioning ('Developmental Disabilities'). Medical students generally do not receive standard training to effectively communicate with and diagnose patients with DDs. ARIE is a program for medical students to meet and learn from these patients and their families. Students learn about these families’ experiences during home visits, guided by standardized interview questions and surveys about families’ trust in physicians. Families did not appear to strongly trust physicians, with no significant changes after the program. Families shared they experienced physicians’ lack of empathy and knowledge when caring for patients with DDs. Families wanted future physicians to be empathetic and informed when treating children with disabilities. Students reported increased comfort and confidence in interacting with patients with DDs as well as their families after completing the training program. Implementing a service-learning model focused on DDs at other medical schools, incorporating training with communication techniques and home visits, can increase students’ confidence and experiences when engaging with patients with DDs and their families.


Development Studies | Disability Studies | Medical Education


The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in International Journal of Developmental Disabilities (online 18 May 2022)


Brigid Jacob:

Katherine Akers:

Anil N. F. Aranha:

Omar Afify:

Jennifer Mendez: