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CDC Report Looks At Prevalence Of Disabilities In The U.S.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One out of five adult Kansans and nearly one out of four adult Missourians has at least one disability, says a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Kansas, difficulty walking was the most common disability (13 percent), followed by cognitive impairment (9 percent); inability to live alone due to physical, mental or emotional conditions (5 percent); difficulty bathing or dressing (3 percent), and seriously impaired vision (3 percent).

Minnesota had the fewest adults with at least one disability, at 16 percent, while Alabama had the most, at 32 percent. Kansas was near the middle at 20 percent. Missouri registered at 24 percent.

The report was based on data gathered in 2013 during a CDC-sponsored telephone survey that involved roughly 465,000 respondents nationwide, including nearly 22,800 from Kansas.

The calls were limited to adults who were not living in institutional settings such as nursing homes. Respondents were not asked if they were deaf or hearing impaired.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Southern states tend to have the highest percentages of people with disabilities.
  • Women tend to have more disabilities than men.
  • The two most frequently cited causes of immobility were arthritis and “back and spine problems.”
  • Almost 50 percent of adults living in households with annual incomes of less than $15,000 have a disability.
  • Nearly 40 percent of adults who did not complete high school have a disability.

Though previous surveys have gathered data on disabilities, this was the first year that the survey, officially known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), included questions to categorize disability.

“This is important information,” said Martha Hodgesmith, associate director of the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas. “For years, advocates for people with disabilities have been wanting to get finer-grain information from BRFSS, which is what we’re seeing now.”

Dave Ranney is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

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