Negative health‐care provider attitudes are a contributing factor to the myriad health disparities faced by people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Nursing comprises the nation’s largest health‐care profession, yet no integrative review on this topic is found.


To organize findings of studies exploring nurses’ attitudes, beliefs, and emotions about caring for adults with ID, to identify areas for future research, and to discuss recommendations for nursing practice.


Whittemore and Knafl’s integrative review method guided this study.


Twenty studies were conducted across eight countries, dichotomized according to mainstream or ID nursing specialty, and were mostly setting‐specific. Common themes included: “knowing the person,” “paternalism/infantilization,” “communication challenges,” “organizational support,” “time,” and “ID‐specific knowledge and experience.” Mainstream nurses’ emotions were primarily negative, whereas ID nurses experienced conflicting positive and negative emotions. Antecedents and effects of nurse attitudes and emotions on the quality of care of adults with ID were identified.


Despite recent increased research on this topic across multiple countries, further research is needed. The findings of this study will aid the development of strategies to address negative nurse attitudes toward caring for adults with ID and act as a foundation for future research beyond the descriptive stage.