This article addresses the urgent need for more evidence-based research using primary data to document how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the health and social wellbeing of disabled individuals. Our study sought to determine if adults with disabilities, and with specific types of disability, were more likely to suffer adverse health and social impacts related to COVID-19 than nondisabled adults in metropolitan Texas, during the first 18 months of the pandemic.
We collected primary data from randomly selected residents in eight Texas metropolitan areas through a bilingual telephone survey in July 2021. Statistical analysis comprised multivariable generalized estimating equations that control for relevant sociodemographic and COVID-related risk factors, and spatial clustering.
Disabled survey respondents had been more adversely affected by COVID-19 than nondisabled respondents, in terms of mental and physical health, health care access, living conditions and social life. Significant disparities were also found for almost all COVID-19 impacts when the disabled category was disaggregated by disability type. Respondents experiencing cognitive and independent living difficulties were negatively impacted in all five areas of life examined.
Findings emphasize the need to consider a wide range of impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that negatively affect the health and social wellbeing of disabled persons, as well as develop disability-inclusive policies that provide adequate protections.