Asthma and asthma-related health care utilization among people without disabilities and people with physical disabilities


Michelle L. Stransky, Ph.D., Robert McGrath, Ph.D., Amanda Reichard, Ph.D., Monica McClain, Ph.D., Kimberly G. Phillips, M.A., Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., Charles E. Drum, M.P.A., J.D., Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 9, Issue 4
Published online: May 18, 2016


Previous research has shown that people with disabilities have higher rates of some chronic diseases and receive poorer disease-specific care than their counterparts without disabilities. Yet, little is known about the relationship between asthma and disability.


This study examines whether differences in the prevalence of asthma, asthma flare, and asthma-related measures of health care quality, utilization and cost exist among people with physical limitations (PL) and without any limitations.


Data from the 2004–2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey were pooled to compare outcomes for working-age adults (18–64) with PL to those with no limitations.


People with PL had higher rates of asthma (13.8% vs. 5.9%, p < 0.001) and recent asthma flare (52.6% vs. 39.6%, p < 0.001) than people without limitations. There were no differences in health care quality, utilization or cost between people with PL and people without limitations in multivariate analyses.


Although there are no differences in asthma-related quality or utilization of health care, people with PL have poorer asthma control than people without limitations. Research is needed to determine what factors (e.g., focus on other acute ailments, perceptions that asthma control cannot improve) are related to this outcome. Future research must also examine differences in asthma severity, and its impact on asthma control and health care-related outcomes, among people with and without disabilities.