Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Health of People with Disabilities

I have long been aware of the health disparities that exist for people with disabilities ever since the 2001 literature reviews done by Yale University for Special Olympics. A new report from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, 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. According to their website:

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 percent, compared to 23 percent of Hispanics, 22 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 18 percent of blacks, and 8 percent of Asians).

• People with disabilities have the least desirable prevalence rates for ten of the fourteen selected health indicators including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

If the nation received this report on the health status of any of the above minority groups, there would be public outrage and calls for increased funding. But, because it involves people with disabilities, it falls upon us to demand that the health people with disabilities, be as high a priority as any other minority group.

For more information on the Health Disparities Chart Book and to download a copy, visit


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