Health Disparities among People with Disabilities: A Snapshot

Roughly 26.7% of adults in Michigan report being disabled.1 People with disabilities in Michigan report higher rates of many chronic conditions and poorer health status, compared to people without disabilities. Following is a brief snapshot of these disparities, taken from the 2016 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey.

General health and health risk behaviors

  • 45.7% of adults with disabilities report their health as fair or poor, compared to 8.3% of their non-disabled counterparts.
  • 28.1% of adults with disabilities report having poor mental health, compared to 8.4% of their non-disabled counterparts.
  • The rate of obesity among adults with disabilities is 43.1%, compared to 28.9% among people without disabilities.
  • 28.0% of adults with disabilities are current smokers, compared to 17.8% of people without disabilities.
  • 39% of people with disabilities reported not getting any leisure time physical activity, compared to 18.6% of people without disabilities.

Chronic conditions

  • 52.0% of adults with disabilities reported having high blood pressure, compared to 27.0% of people without disabilities (2013).
  • 52.0% of adults with disabilities have been told they have high cholesterol, compared to 33.1% of adults without disabilities (2015).
  • 21% of adults with disabilities reported having diabetes, compared with 8% of people without disabilities.
  • 12.3% of adults with disabilities reported having cardiovascular disease, compared with 2.8% of people without disabilities.
  • 63% of people with disabilities reported having arthritis, compared with 21.8% of people without disabilities.
  • 25.6% of adults with disabilities reported having had asthma in their life, compared with 12.9% of people without disabilities.
  • 44% of people with disabilities reported having depression, compared with 14.8% of people without disabilities.
  • 21% of people with disabilities reported having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), compared to 4.7% of people without disabilities.
  • 19.9% of people with disabilities reported having ever had cancer, compared to 10.6% among people without disabilities.
  • 7.2% of people with disabilities reported having kidney disease, compared to 2.6% of people without disabilities.

1 Disability is defined as "being limited in any activities because of physical, mental, or emotional problems or requiring the use of special equipment, such as a cane, a wheelchair, a special bed, or a special telephone due to a health problem" (p.3).