Unmet needs for home and community-based services among persons with disabilities in Massachusetts

Monika Mitra, Ph.D., Karen Bogen, Ph.D., Linda M. Long-Bellil, Ph.D., J.D., Dennis Heaphy, M.Ed., M.P.H.

Disability and Health Journal
Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages 219–228, October 2011




Home and community-based services (HCBS) are vital to the health and well-being of persons with disabilities. However, no previous population-based studies have examined the prevalence of unmet needs for HCBS among working-age persons with disabilities. The purpose of this report is to document the prevalence of unmet need for HCBS among a representative sample of working-age persons with disabilities in Massachusetts.


Data from the 2007 Massachusetts Survey of Unmet Needs of Adults with Disabilities were analyzed. HCBS included in-home help, case-management, information, access to medical care, physical and occupational therapy, prescription drugs, meals, assistive technology, home adaptation, transportation, need for assistance with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) services.


The prevalence of unmet need for HCBS was high, with more than two-thirds of respondents reporting at least 1 unmet need and more than 1 in 4 respondents reporting 4 or more unmet needs. The most prevalent unmet need included the need for information for disability-related services and legal rights, need for primary, specialty, and mental health care, case management services and the unmet need for IADL services. The unmet needs for HCBS were categorized into unmet needs relating to access to information and services and those relating to in-home supports.


The study findings support the need to broaden the scope of HCBS for working-age persons with disabilities and to implement community-based programs such as improving access to information for services and benefits and enhancing access to in-home supports.