201094 Use of Available Disability Measures in Research Analysis: An Overview

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 1:06 PM

Barbara Altman, PhD , Dsability Statistics Consultant, Rockville, MD
Julie D. Weeks, PhD , Office of Analysis and epidemiology, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD
While we have some very useful theoretical models of disability to underpin a wide ranging research agenda about disability, the measurement of the conceptual components in our survey datasets and our use of existing data have not yet reached their potential. Although the seeming richness of the data available to identify the disabled population and represent the disablement process, and the recent proliferation of research in this area would appear to contradict our original statement, the confusion created by the multiple measures, different prevalence estimates and very different approaches to research are real and have become policy issues.

In this study we examine what disability measures available from nationally representative surveys are used in the published literature, how they are used and the representation of disability they provide. Using four types of journals publishing disability research from the past 3 years, articles using a disability (broadly defined) measure in the analyses were randomly selected. Journals included fall into one of four categories of research orientations: rehabilitation, public health, gerontology, and disability studies.

Initial findings suggest 1) the measures used reflect differing operationalizations of disability concepts in each discipline; 2) in some disciplines a wide array of measures are utilized, in others there exists little variation in what is used to capture disability; and 3) the lag between the theoretical expansion of the understanding of the disability experience and data collection has created both data gaps and integrated research gaps that are restricting the development of a broad disability knowledge base.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the variety of disability measures and how they are used in analysis Compare the use of disability measures across a variety of journals that publish disabiliy research. Discuss the data gaps in national surveys and research gaps within specific literature areas.

Keywords: Disability, Data/Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a PhD and am writing a book on disability statistics of which this material is a part
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.