Prevalence and patterns of youth responses to standard disability survey questions

Angela Senders, Marjorie G. McGee, Willi Horner-Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: In 2011, the US Department of Health and Human Services adopted a minimum set of six standardized questions about disability to be used in population-based health surveys. These questions have been validated for self- and proxy-report use by adults, but how they perform for adolescents is unknown. Objective: To describe how 8th grade students, 11th grade students, and young adults aged 18–24 years in Oregon answer these questions. Methods: Cross-sectional study design. Data for the 8th and 11th grade students were derived from the Oregon Health Teens survey (OHT; 2017 and 2019); data for young adults aged 18–24 were from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; 2017 and 2018). Unweighted counts, weighted proportions and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for socio-demographic characteristics, the six disability questions, and overall disability status (yes/no) among 8th graders (n = 14,396), 11th graders (n = 23,517), and young adults (n = 1112). Results: Responses for 8th and 11th grade students were materially consistent for all six questions. Young adults were markedly less likely to report cognitive disability compared to 8th and 11th graders (17.2% vs. 24.9% and 27.0%, respectively) and somewhat less likely to report an independent living disability (6.5% vs. 8.6% and 9.8%, respectively). Conclusion: Differences in cognitive disabilities between adolescents and young adults may either be due to differences in underlying impairment or the result of youth interpreting this question differently than adults. Validation of the standardized disability identifiers for self-report in adolescents is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101280
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Adolescent
  • Data collection methods
  • Disability evaluation
  • Disabled persons
  • Statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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