(Salt Lake City, UT) – According to a new report released by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), nearly one in five (17.8%) Utah adults is living with a disability. The most common are mobility-related disabilities (9.1%), followed by cognitive disabilities (8.8%), disabilities that impact independent living (4.5%), vision-related disabilities (2.8%), and disabilities that impact self-care (2.3%). Data on deaf or hard of hearing were not included in the report.
“Adults with disabilities experience significant differences in their health behaviors and overall health compared with adults without disabilities,” said Libby Oseguera, spokesperson with the UDOH. “Our data shows people with disabilities were more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like inactivity and tobacco usage and experience a higher incidence of chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity.”
Many of the health outcomes that persons with disabilities are more likely to experience either contribute to the top causes of death or are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. In fact, Utahns with disabilities were three times more likely to have a heart attack, two times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer (not including skin cancer), and two times more likely to have asthma or arthritis when compared to those without a disability. Focusing on improving health through exercise, proper nutrition, and preventive health check-ups often takes a backseat to the challenges faced in everyday life.
The report showed that among persons with disabilities:
- 36.9% report “fair” or “poor” health compared to only 6.7% among persons without a disability
- 41.9% report having seven or more days of poor mental health compared to 10.9% among persons without a disability
- Nearly half (49.9%) had a diagnosis of depressive disorder compared with 15.5% among persons without a disability
“Unfortunately, poor health can make the challenges of everyday life more stressful and may result in increased physical, mental, and emotional demands as diseases develop,” said Oseguera.
Findings from the report also showed Utahns with disabilities were more likely to be female, Native American/Alaskan Native, and live in the Central Utah, Southeast Utah, Tooele County, or TriCounty local health districts. Persons with disabilities were also more likely to report lower education and income levels as well as a lack of health insurance when compared to those without disabilities.
“The Utah Department of Health recognizes these disparities and is working to make wellness and prevention more engaging and inclusive of people with disabilities in our programs, particularly those within our Bureau of Health Promotion,” said Kathy Paras, manager of the UDOH Disability and Health Program.
The report also provides a list of things the UDOH, healthcare providers, state officials and community leaders, and adults living with disabilities can do to improve health outcomes. Included is the recommendation to participate in Living Well workshops offered across the state that can help with management of chronic pain and chronic diseases, found at http://livingwell.utah.gov.
A copy of the report can be found at https://health.utah.gov.
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