Research priorities for health of people with disabilities: an expert opinion exercise

Tomlinson M. ; Swartz L. ; Officer A. ; Chan K.Y. ; Rudan I. ; Saxena S. (2009)


International evidence shows that people with disabilities have many unmet health and rehabilitation needs, face barriers in accessing mainstream health-care services, and consequently have poor health. Inadequate specific information is available about the prevalence and patterns of health conditions of people with disabilities, effective interventions, and policy-relevant research about what works to improve health and functioning of people with disabilities. In view of the urgency of the issues at stake and scarcity of resources, research contributing to improvement of health of people with disabilities needs to be prioritised. We invited 82 stakeholders to list and score research options, with the priority-setting method of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative. 83 research questions were assessed for answerability, applicability, sensitivity, support within the context, and equity. The leading research priority was identification of barriers that people with disabilities have in accessing health services at different levels, and finding the best possible strategies to integrate their needs into primary health-care systems and ensure local delivery. Results showed that addressing specific impairments is secondary to ensuring that health systems provide adequately for all people with disabilities. Our findings are a call for urgent attention to the issue of access to appropriate health care for people with disabilities, especially in low-income and middle-income countries. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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