Recognizing and Responding to the Health Disparities of People with Disabilities
Health status is critically important to experiencing quality of life, self-sufficiency, and full participation in society. For the 54 million Americans with disabilities, maintaining health and wellness is especially important to reduce the impact of impairment on functioning in these critical life areas. Yet, people with disabilities may be the largest underserved subpopulation demonstrating health status disparities that stem from preventable secondary conditions. Healthy People 2010, the nation’s blueprint for improved health, addresses this problem in its objectives. In 2002 and 2005, the U.S. Surgeon General asked for public health efforts to improve the health and wellness of persons with disabilities. This article examines the concepts of health and wellness, summarizes currently available information documenting disparities in health for people with disabilities, and provides a framework for policy recommendations to reduce health disparities among people with disabilities.