Disparities in chronic conditions and health status by type of disability

Willi Horner-Johnson, Konrad Dobbertin, Jae Chul Lee, Elena M. Andresen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Prior research has established health disparities between people with and without disabilities. However, disparities within the disability population, such as those related to type of disability, have been much less studied. Objective: To examine differences in chronic conditions and health status between subgroups of people with different types of disability. Methods: We analyzed Medical Expenditure Panel Survey annual data files from 2002 to 2008. Logistic regression analyses considered disparity from three perspectives: 1) basic differences, unadjusted for other factors; 2) controlling for key demographic and health covariates; and 3) controlling for a larger set of demographic variables and socioeconomic status as well as health and access to healthcare. Results: Individuals with vision, physical, cognitive, or multiple disability types fared worse than people with hearing impairment on most health outcomes. This was most consistently true for people with multiple disabilities. Even when all covariates were accounted for, people with multiple types of disability were significantly more likely (p < 0.05) than those with hearing impairment (reference group) to report every poor health outcome with the exception of BMI ≥ 25 and lung disease. Conclusions: While many of the differences between disability types were reduced when controlling for other factors, some differences remained significant. This argues for a more individualized approach to understanding and preventing chronic conditions and poor health in specific disability groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Adult
  • Chronic conditions
  • Health status disparities
  • People with disabilities
  • Population surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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