Identification of targets for improving access to care in persons with long term physical disabilities

Jennifer L. Wong, Kevin N. Alschuler, Tracy M. Mroz, Kimberly P. Hreha, Ivan R. Molton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: People with long-term physical disability (LTPD) continue to experience difficulties in accessing health care despite the focus of highlighting disparities in the last two decades. Objectives: To describe health care utilization, accommodations and barriers experienced while accessing health care, and reasons why individuals delay or skip health care among people with LTPD. Methods: The current study was a part of a larger longitudinal survey administered to individuals with physical disability associated with one of four long-term conditions (MS; SCI; PPS; MD). Measures included demographics, health care utilization, barriers to health care, and reasons for delaying or skipping medical care from the sixth wave of data from 2015 to 2016. Results: Roughly 90% of all participants (N = 1159) saw at least one medical provider within 12 months. The most encountered barrier participants reported experiencing within that time was an office that did not have a safe transfer device to move them to an exam table (69%). Participants’ physical function, quality of life, status of living with a spouse, diagnostic condition, and sex (male) were significantly associated with endorsing a barrier in accessing health care. The inability to afford out of pocket expenses was the highest reported reason for delaying health care. Conclusions: People with LTPD access a variety of health care, including rehabilitation services, and continue to experience barriers when doing so. While understanding barriers individuals experience when accessing health care is important, it is equally important to document the type of care they delay or skip due to barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-374
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Access
  • Barriers
  • Health care
  • Long-term physical disability
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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