Most Medical Doctors View the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities as Subpar

February 15, 2021

Lead Author of New Study Calls Findings, “Very Disturbing” 

Approximately 12% of  Americans have at least one disability. Growing evidence shows that individuals living with disabilities experience healthcare disparities compared to the general population. A new study published in the journal Health Affairs was the first of its kind to examine doctors’ attitudes on treating people with disabilities. The research involved surveying 714 practicing physicians. Sadly, the study’s initial finding revealed that 82% of the physician respondents believed that people with significant disabilities experience a worse quality of life than those without disabilities. Two other depressing statistics came out of this research. Only 40% of doctors were confident they could provide the same quality of care to a patient with a disability than they could for those without. Additionally, just a mere 56% “strongly agreed” that they welcome people with disabilities into their practice even though the Americans with Disabilities Act requires equal access to healthcare. The study’s lead author, Lisa I. Iezzoni,  a health care policy researcher at both Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was not surprised that most doctors had negative attitudes about patients with disabilities. However, she reported to be shocked by the magnitude of physicians stigmatizing views. Iezzoni along with the other study’s authors suggest that adding disability training in medical school could be an excellent way to change perceptions about treating those with disabilities. Adding this curriculum may help correct healthcare disparities for this fragile population in the future.

Original Article

Original Study Abstract

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