BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to describe the distribution and relationship of 16 secondary medical problems, impairments, and participation limitations among adults with disabilities to demographic characteristics, self-reported health, satisfaction with life, and social participation.
METHODS: Data were analyzed for 4175 respondents to the disability supplements of the 2001 and 2003 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey Disability Supplement.
RESULTS: Of persons with disabilities, 87% reported at least 1 secondary medical problem, impairment, or participation limitation, with a mean of 4.1. Conditions were unevenly distributed in the 73% of those with disabilities with more than 1 condition: a cluster of one-fourth of this group had an average of 9.7 conditions and the remaining three-fourths averaged 3.9 conditions, with no strong correlations among conditions in either cluster. Number and type of condition were related to age, gender, income, and social participation among people with disabilities and explained part of the relationship of disability status to health and life satisfaction.
CONCLUSION: The data provide evidence that prevention and treatment of secondary medical problems, impairments, and participation limitations may reduce disability-related disparities in health and well-being.