Minorities With Disabilities Report Poorer Health

THURSDAY Oct. 2, 2008 -- An estimated 43 million Americans -- one in five people -- have some type of disability, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And a new CDC study finds that black, Hispanic and Native Americans with a disability report fair or poor health at disproportionately higher rates than white or Asian Americans.

Overall, adults with a disability were less likely to report excellent or very good health (27.2 percent vs. 60.2 percent), and were more likely to report being in fair or poor health (40.3 percent vs. 9.9 percent), when compared to people without a disability, according to the report.

Reports of fair or poor health among disabled adults were more common among Hispanics and American Indians/Alaskan Natives (55.2 percent and 50.5 percent, respectively) and least common among Asians (about 25 percent).

The findings were published in the Oct. 3 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

With October declared National Disability Awareness Month, the CDC said, "Efforts to reduce racial/ethnic health disparities should explicitly include strategies to improve the health and well being of persons with disabilities within each racial/ethnic population."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 6 percent of children age 5 to 15 have disabilities, 12 percent of people 16 to 64 have disabilities, and 41 percent of adults 65 and older have disabilities.

In addition:

  • 1.8 million people 15 and older report being unable to see.
  • 1 million people 15 and older report being unable to hear.
  • 2.6 million people 15 and older report some difficulty having their speech understood by others. This includes 610,000 people unable to have their speech understood at all.
  • 14.3 million people report limitations in cognitive functioning, or who have a mental or emotional illness that interferes with daily activities, including those with Alzheimer's disease and mental retardation. This group of individuals comprises 6 percent of the population 15 and older.

More information

To learn more about disabilities, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Posted: October 2008


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