Association between perceived discrimination and healthcare–seeking behavior in people with a disability

Miguel G. Moscoso-Porras, P.T., M.Sc. (c), German F. Alvarado, M.D., Ph.D., School of Public Health, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 93-98


Experiences of discrimination lead people from vulnerable groups to avoid medical healthcare. It is yet to be known if such experiences affect people with disabilities (PWD) in the same manner.


To determine the association between perceived discrimination and healthcare-seeking behavior in people with disabilities and to explore differences of this association across disability types.


We performed a cross-sectional study with data from a national survey of people with disabilities. Perceived discrimination and care-seeking behavior were measured as self-reports from the survey. Dependence for daily life activities, possession of health insurance, and other disability-related variables were included and considered as confounders. We used Poisson regression models and techniques for multistage sampling in the analyses. A stratified analysis was used to explore effects of discrimination across types of disability.


Most of PWD were 65 years or older (67.1%). Prevalence of healthcare seeking was 78.8% in those who perceived discrimination, and 86.1% in those who did not. After adjusting for potential confounders, the probability of not seeking care was higher in people who reported perceived discrimination (adjusted PR = 1.15; 95%CI: 1.04–1.28). In a stratified analysis, significant effects of discrimination were found in people with communication disability (adjusted PR = 1.34, 95%CI: 1.07–1.67) and with physical disability (adjusted PR = 1.17, 95%CI: 1.03–1.34).


People with disabilities who perceive discrimination are less likely to seek healthcare. This association was higher for people with communication and physical disabilities. These results provide evidence to institutions who attempt to tackle discrimination.