Minority Research: Women

Barriers to exercise in African American women with physical disabilities.
Rimmer JH, Rubin SS, Braddock D.  Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2000 Feb;81(2):182-8.

OBJECTIVE: To examine what factors African American women with one or more physical disabilities perceive as barriers to exercise and how they rank them.

SETTING: Department of Disability and Human Development at a major university.

STUDY DESIGN: Data were collected through telephone interview using a newly developed instrument (Barriers to Physical Exercise and Disability [B-PED]) that addressed issues related to physical activity and the subjects’ disability.

SUBJECTS: Fifty subjects were asked questions about their participation and interest in structured exercise.

RESULTS: The four major barriers were cost of the exercise program (84.2%), lack of energy (65.8%), transportation (60.5%), and not knowing where to exercise (57.9%). Barriers commonly reported in nondisabled persons (eg, lack of time, boredom, too lazy) were not observed in our sample. Only 11% of the subjects reported that they were not interested in starting an exercise program. The majority of subjects (81.5%) wanted to join an exercise program but were restricted by the barriers reported.

CONCLUSION: African American women with a physical disability are interested in becoming more active but are limited in doing so because of their inability to overcome several barriers to increased physical activity participation.


Disability and health status: ethnic differences among women in the United States.
Andresen EM. Brownson RC. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 54(3):200-6, 2000 Mar.

STUDY OBJECTIVES: There are few data describing disability and health status for ethnic groups. The disablement process involves social influences, which may include minority status. Cross sectional data were examined to investigate the relation of ethnicity to disability.

DESIGN: A stratified random digit dialed sample of women aged 40 and older. Disability and health status were measured as functional and activity limitations, work disability, and days of poor physical and mental health.

SETTING: United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Women interviewed by telephone included 774 white, 749 African-American, 660 Hispanic, and 739 Native American women.

MAIN RESULTS: The prevalence of disability was higher among minority women when classified by general health status, and the need for personal care assistance. There was a striking excess of work disability: 3.5% of white women compared with 7.1% to 10.3% for minority women. The differences were reduced when adjusted for other risk factors and socioeconomic status. White and minority women reported more similar disability when it was defined by poor mental and physical health days.

CONCLUSIONS: Disability is correlated with social and demographic characteristics as well as medical diagnoses. Ethnicity also is associated with disability and may be part of a social context for disablement. Future research should concentrate on the temporal sequence of disability. Consistent definitions of disability will facilitate this research.


Mental health and vitality among Canadian women with physical disabilities.
Feld R, Colantonio A, Yoshida K, Odette F.  Psychol Rep. 2003 Aug;93(1):75-83.

This study investigated scores for mental health and vitality in a large community-based sample of women with physical disabilities. The scores from two subscales of the SF-36 were collected from 1,096 women with physical disabilities through a mailed survey regarding health and well-being. These scores were compared to normative data using t tests. The mean scores of the vitality subscale were significantly lower than that of the normed sample when analyzed by age groups. The mental health scores were significantly lower as well, except for one age group (65-74 yr.). These results suggest that health care workers should address aspects of mental health and energy when caring for women with physical disabilities, as these areas are often overlooked in this population. Health promotion programs aimed at these topics should be designed specifically for this population as well.


Physical activity patterns of African-American women with physical disabilities.
Rimmer JH. Rubin SS. Braddock D. Hedman G.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 31(4):613-8. 1999 Apr.

There is a dearth of research on the exercise and activity patterns of persons with disabilities, particularly minority women with disabilities. This lack of information makes it difficult for public health officials to set policy guidelines for this segment of the population.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to survey the exercise and activity patterns of African-American women with severe physical disabilities (N = 50).

METHODS: The Physical Activity and Disability Survey (PADS) was created for subjects who have a severe limitation in movement and function (e.g., limited ability to stand or walk, needs an assistive aid to ambulate, needs assistance with activities of daily living). Reliability data were obtained on the PADS for interrater, test-retest, and internal consistency on the two subscales (Exercise and Activity). The Exercise subscale had an interrater reliability of 0.83 and test/retest reliability of 0.85. The Activity subscale had an interrater reliability of 0.68 and test/retest reliability of 0.66. Cronbach’s alpha for internal consistency was 0.78 for the Exercise subscale and 0.68 for the Activity subscale.

RESULTS: Results showed very low levels of exercise and general activity patterns in African-American women with physical disabilities. Only 8.2% of the sample participated in leisure-time physical activity, and only 10% engaged in aerobic exercise three or more days per week for at least 15 min. Unstructured physical activity (e.g., work-related activity, housework, gardening, shopping) was nearly absent.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that the extremely low levels of self-reported physical activity in African-American women with severe physical disabilities expose them to a higher risk of secondary health conditions.