People living with a disability remains a largely unaddressed population in public health. People with disabilities may experience barriers to the access of health care screenings, interventions, and overall health care. Adults with both disabilities and chronic conditions receive fewer preventive services and are in poorer health than individuals without disabilities who have similar health conditions. People with disabilities need health care programs just like the general population to stay healthy, and be a part of the community. They have the right to tools and information to be able to make healthy choices to prevent illness, as well as make decisions about their health care. Public health promotion efforts can positively affect the health and well-being of people with disabilities.7
Preventive screenings and health promotion for people with disabilities could ultimately reduce secondary conditions, reduce national and individual costs, and improve quality of life. Specific health promotion strategies for people with disabilities can impact their health and well-being across the lifespan.
Preventive health care services are an important aspect of living a healthy life for all people, yet inaccessible facilities and equipment often prevent people with disabilities from receiving adequate care. Women 40 years of age or older with a disability were less likely to have had a mammogram (72.2%) than were women without a disability (77.8%).21 Significantly fewer women with a disability (78.9%) reported receiving a Pap test during the previous 3 years compared to women without a disability (83.4%).21
Example: An example of health promotion activities for people with disabilities is the Montana Living Well with a Disability Program. The program is designed to help people with a disability strengthen existing skills to live well. The program includes a workshop comprised of eight, two hour sessions that introduce a process for setting and clarifying goals, as well as teaching skills for generating, implementing, and monitoring solutions.