INTRODUCTION: A strong relationship exists between disability and poor health. This relationship could exist as a result of disabilities emerging from chronic conditions; conversely, people with disabilities may be at increased risk of developing chronic conditions. Studying health in relation to age of disability onset can illuminate the extent to which disability may be a risk factor for future poor health.
METHODS: We used data from the 2006-2012 National Health Interview Survey and conducted weighted logistic regression analyses to compare chronic conditions in adults with lifelong disabilities (n = 2,619) and adults with no limitations (n = 122,395).
RESULTS: After adjusting for sociodemographic differences, adults with lifelong disabilities had increased odds of having the following chronic conditions compared with adults with no limitations: coronary heart disease (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.92; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.33-3.66) cancer (AOR = 1.61; 95% CI, 1.34-1.94), diabetes (AOR = 2.57; 95% CI, 2.10-3.15), obesity (AOR = 1.81; 95% CI, 1.63-2.01), and hypertension (AOR = 2.18; 95% CI, 1.94-2.45). Subpopulations of people with lifelong disabilities (ie, physical, mental, intellectual/developmental, and sensory) experienced similar increased odds for chronic conditions compared with people with no limitations.
CONCLUSION: Adults with lifelong disabilities were more likely to have chronic conditions than adults with no limitations, indicating that disability likely increases risk of developing poor health. This distinction is critical in understanding how to prevent health risks for people with disabilities. Health promotion efforts that target people living with a disability are needed.
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