The most common form of disability type was a mobility limitation – characterized by serious difficulty in walking or climbing stairs. This form of disability is reported by one in eight adults. The other forms of disability that make up for the rest in the study include disability in thinking and/or memory, inability to live independently, inability to take care of one’s self, and vision problems.
The study reports that Southern states had the highest percentages of people with disabilities. For example, in Alabama 31.5 percent of adults had some form of disability. Mississippi and Tennessee were not far behind with 31.4 percent of adults reporting disability. The report did not determine why the prevalence of disabilities is higher in the southern states. But it was noted the fact that Southern states have a higher incidence of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes might be a causative factor.
The report also revealed that white non-Hispanic adults had a lesser percentage (20.6 percent) of disability than black non-Hispanic adults (29 percent) and Hispanic adults (25.9 percent). Those with lower education levels, lower incomes, and no jobs were more likely to report a disability than educated people in high-paying jobs.
Many of the health issues that people with disabilities face can be rectified by ensuring they have access to health promotion programs and health care services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made a positive difference in the lives of those who have disabilities by ensuring better access to buildings, transportation, employment, and reasonable access to preventive health care.
Through its state-based disability and health programs and national collaborations, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) aims to reduce health disparities faced by people with disabilities. The center will facilitate the inclusion of adults with disabilities into public health surveys, public health programs, emergency preparedness and planning efforts, and accessible health care services.
According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, everybody is at risk of having a disability at some point in their lifetime.
“Health professionals and health care systems need to meet the needs of this growing population,” said Frieden.
Although there is annual data on adults with disabilities, this was the first time that functional disability type was included in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.