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CDC Report Says 1 In Every 5 Americans Living With Some Form Of Disability

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in every five Americans reported some type of disability, as per analysis of a 2013 survey data.

Knowing the prevalence of individuals with disabilities is a crucial step in planning and implementing public health programs that can address the specific needs of patients with disabilities. In 2013, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) included five parameters in their system, which encompass identifying disabilities in vision, cognition, mobility, ability to perform self-care and independent living.

The CDC studied the information available in the 2013 BRFSS to evaluate the prevalence of any disability and disability types in US adults who are not enrolled in institutions. The BRFSS is a statewide survey performed by dialing random landline and mobile numbers of numerous US civilians aged 18 years old and above. In the 2013 survey, the members of the survey body added the five new disability types in their questionnaire. The surveyors marked the participants to "have one of the five disability types" if they answered "yes" to a significant query and "having any disability" if they responded with a "yes" to at least one of the disability questions. Responders who answered with "do not know" or "refused" were not included in the investigation. The researchers then calculated the prevalence of disability and disability types according to age group, gender, race/ ethnicity, veteran status, annual income, education level and employment status. The estimated values that the researchers have come up with were age-adjusted to the 2000 US population data.

The researchers found that disabilities in mobility and cognition were the most commonly reported disability types. The prevalence for each disability type range from 2.7 percent to 8.1 percent for vision, 6.9 percent to 16.8 percent for cognition, 8.5 percent to 20.7 percent for mobility, 1.9 percent to 6.2 percent for self-care and 4.2 percent to 10.8 percent for independent living. Adults living in the southern states and those who have a female gender generally exhibited higher prevalence rates compared to males. Any disability under the mobility category was mostly noted among older adults. All in all, 22.2 percent or 53,316,677 US adults were categorized to have any disability as per survey reports. The state-level prevalence of the said classification ranges from 16.4 percent in Minnesota to 31.5 percent in Alabama.

The information collated in this analysis is said to improve the focus of public health programs based on the prevalence of disability and disability types among adults in the US. Disability has long been linked to the diversities in behavioral risk factors. The lack of knowledge about the prevalence of disability and disability types may be one reason why state programs are not able to address essential health concerns. With this, it may be said that having adequate information about the demographic profiles and disability types may help experts better determine specific health problems present and subsequently formulate or modify interventions to cater to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Photo: Simon Blackley | Flickr

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