Report Examines Health Disparities for People with Disabilities

Compared to racial and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities are generally more likely to experience poorer health, according to a report from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (IOD). The report, “Health Disparities Chart Book on Disability and Racial and Ethnic Status in the United States,” examines the health status of working-age (18-64) people with disabilities, as reported to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the nation’s premier public health survey.

Among the key findings in the report:

  • If people with disabilities were a formally recognized minority group, at 19% of the population, they would be the largest minority group in the United States;
  • the highest proportion of people who say their health is fair or poor is found in people with disabilities (40%, compared to 23% of Hispanics, 22% of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 18% of blacks, and 8% of Asians);
  • people with disabilities have the least desirable prevalence rates for 10 of the fourteen selected health indicators, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Relatively little research has been conducted comparing the health of people with disabilities with that of people from racial and ethnic minority groups,” Charles Drum, IOD director and report co-author, said in a press release. “However, research has consistently documented that, as a group, people with disabilities experience poorer health than the general population. Specifically, people with a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities are more likely to experience poorer health status, potentially preventable secondary conditions, chronic conditions, and early deaths.”

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