While disabilities are very common, awareness and access to care need to be addressed, according to the CDC.
Around 61 million Americans, or 1 out of every 4 people, are living with a disability that impacts their everyday lives, according to the CDC. With a quarter of the population affected, the agency is highlights the importance of increasing awareness about disabilities in a recent report.
“At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has one,” said Colleen Boyle, PhD, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in a prepared statement. “Learning more about people with disabilities in the United States can help us better understand and meet their health needs.”
There are 6 types of disability measured in the CDC report, according to data used from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The most common type of disability is mobility, followed by cognition, independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care.
Women, non-Hispanic native Americans/Alaskan natives, adults with low incomes, and adults in the South are more likely to have a disability than other groups, according to the report. The likelihood of disability was inversely proportionate to income, with mobility disabilities 5 times more common among middle aged adults living in poverty than those who made twice the poverty threshold, according to the report.
Adults over the age of 65 with disabilities are more likely to have health insurance coverage that allows them to visit a primary doctor for routine check-ups, in comparison to middle aged adults and young adults with disabilities. Disparities in access to care are common—adults with a vision disability have the least access to care, while those with self-care disabilities have the most access. Understanding these disparities can be the first step in improving access to care, according to the report.
“People with disabilities will benefit from care coordination and better access to health care and the health services they need, so that they adopt healthy behaviors and have better health,” said the director of the CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability, Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH. “Research showing how many people have a disability and differences in their access to health care can guide efforts by health care providers and public health practitioners to improve access to care for people with disabilities.”
CDC: 1 in 4 Adults Live with a Disability. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC’s Website. August 16, 2018.https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html. Accessed August 21, 2018.