Physical Disability and Health Disparities


Individuals with ambulatory disabilities or mobility limitations comprise approximately 7% of the US population ages 5 and older. Persons with mobility limitations/physical disabilities are more likely to experience health disparities such as increased rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes than persons without mobility limitations. Factors that increase health disparities include both upstream and downstream causes. Upstream causes include poverty, stress, and stigma. Downstream causes include lack of access stemming from insufficient resources to acquire needed care, equipment and space access, transportation challenges, and limited training for healthcare providers on providing appropriate care for individuals with disabilities. Addressing the key causes of health disparities includes policy-level changes that address poverty, ensuring access barriers are addressed through statute such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, improving data to enhance evidence-based decision-making, better training of healthcare providers, and including people with disabilities in public health campaigns.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, L. L., MapelLentz, S., & Larson, S. (2019). Physical Disability and Health Disparities. In D. Hollar (Ed.), Advances in Exercise and Health for People with Mobility Limitations.


Book Chapter 
Springer Link/Springer Nature