Improved disability detection could reduce clinical disparities

Patients with disabilities are at greater risk for disparities in health care, due to providers’ inadequate identification of specific disabilities, according to a study recently published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

Megan A. Morris, of the Center for Healthcare Studies at Northwestern University Chicago, said disability status questionnaires may be insufficient as they focus on impairments and limitations, but do not include environmental and personal factors such as communication deficiencies.

“After passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services published six required disability status questions, but they fulfill agency needs and are not designed to gather disability data within a health care provider organization.”

Morris recommends health care providers develop questions that capture the range of possible disabilities and produce actionable data, as well as include disabled individuals in question development to gain a broader perspective.  

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