Assessment of primary care services and perceived barriers to care in persons with disabilities

Amanda L. Harrington, Mark A. Hirsch, Flora M. Hammond, H. James Norton, William L. Bockenek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine what percentage of persons with disabilities have a primary care provider, participate in routine screening and health maintenance examinations, and identify perceived physical or physician barriers to receiving care. DESIGN: A total of 344 surveys, consisting of 66 questions, were collected from adults with disabilities receiving care at an outpatient rehabilitation clinic. RESULTS: A total of 89.5% (95% CI 86.3%-92.8%) of participants reported having a primary care physician. Younger persons (P < 0.0001), men (P < 0.02), persons with brain injury (P < 0.05), or persons with amputations (P < 0.05) were less likely to have a primary care physician. Participant report of screening for alcohol, nonprescription drug use, and safety with relationships at home ranged from 26.6% to 37.5% compared with screening for depression, diet, exercise, and smoking (64.5%-70%). Completion rates of age- and gender-appropriate health maintenance examinations ranged from 42.4% to 90%. A total of 2.67% of participants reported problems with physical access at their physician's office, and 36.4% (95% CI 30.8%-42.1%) of participants reported having to teach their primary care physician about their disability. CONCLUSIONS: Most persons with disabilities have a primary care physician. In general, completion rates for routine screening and health maintenance examinations were high. Perceived deficits in primary care physicians' knowledge of disability issues seem more prevalent than physical barriers to care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-863
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Disabled persons
  • Health promotion
  • Health services accessibility
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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