When it first passed 20 years ago, the American Disabilities Act offered hope for closing the health-disparities gap for people with disabilities, but differences still exist. Barring people with limiting physical issues from research studies may bear some of the blame, and researchers from Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing want to change that restriction.
In a commentary for Science Translational Medicine, Ann S. Williams and Shirley M. Moore ask researchers to rethink participation criteria that exclude people with sight, hearing or mobility problems, or other disabilities.
They suggest employing universal design methods like those adopted by classroom teachers to integrate children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms.
Some of those same tools - audio instructions or large print -- can accommodate people with disabilities. Without the participation of this population, the science is not all there, Williams said.
People with physical and mental challenges have some of the same health problems affecting the general population. For years, the one-size model of research based on how men suffered disease and weathered treatments was the norm until women and minorities became part of research. Scientific evidence shows that health-related differences do exist between men, women and minorities.
Williams suspects such differences will surface for the 47.5 million disabled, who make up 22 percent of the American population, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For example, Williams asked, "How much exercise does someone in a wheelchair need to be healthy?"
"When they ask someone how far they walk, in this case the walking can be how far the individual rolled the wheelchair," she said.
She wants to see "disability" added to "race" and "gender" in describing study participants.
How major diseases, such as d
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University