Health promotion for people with disabilities: development and evaluation of the Living Well with a Disability program.

People with disabilities can benefit from health promotion opportunities to reduce the incidence and severity of secondary conditions that further limit their participation in society. This paper describes participatory action research (PAR) methods we used to develop, implement and evaluate the Living Well with a Disability program. Community-based agencies that provide information and referral services to people with disabilities (independent living centers funded under Title VII, Rehabilitation Act) recruited a convenience sample of 246 people with mobility impairments to participate in a randomly assigned, wait-list control health promotion intervention study. Paper-and-pencil outcome measures included the secondary conditions surveillance instrument, unhealthy days and health care utilization. Logistic regression on outcomes controlling for demographic variables and pre-test measures indicated reductions in all three outcome variables. People with mobility impairments who participated in the Living Well with a Disability program reported less limitation from secondary conditions, fewer unhealthy days and less health care utilization. PAR methods are particularly important to design useful interventions for this population.