People with disabilities are more likely to experience chronic health problems and health disparities.1,6,7,10,20 Having an understanding of program and process evaluations will increase the capacity of public health professionals to create and manage programs targeted at reducing health disparities for people with disabilities.
Example: Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program has provided more than 1.6 million free health screenings in more than 130 countries to people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program offers health services and information to athletes with significant health care needs. In the process, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities. Data collection is incorporated at every phase of planning and implementation, which is then aggregated to demonstrate progress towards the goal of reducing health disparities for people with disabilities. Data on the health of athletes collected through free health screenings is used to demonstrate the need for the program’s health and medical services provided by program volunteers. Both Healthy Athlete program participants and volunteers report on their satisfaction and increase in knowledge during and after the program, and provide feedback on program success and worth. Findings from these combined strategies are used to educate policymakers, expand research and programming, and promote greater awareness of health disparities and needs.27