One of every seven adult Delawareans has at least one disability, and the general health of these residents with disabilities is only "fair" to "poor," according to a landmark study conducted by University of Delaware researchers.
The two-year study, one of the first to assess the health of Delaware adults with all types of disabilities, including physical, sensory, cognitive, and learning impairments, is a key component of the Healthy Delawareans with Disabilities 2010 Project of Delaware Health and Social Services' Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.
The study's findings and recommendations are published in the 56-page Delaware Health Status Report for Persons with Disabilities, which will now serve as a tool for state agencies, policy makers, community organizations, health-care providers and families to improve the welfare of the state's adults with disabilities.
"For the first time, we have an understanding of the health status of adults with disabilities in Delaware," Ilka Riddle, a researcher at UD's Center for Disabilities Studies, said. Riddle, who received her doctorate in human development and family studies at UD, coordinated the project, which involved several of the center's faculty and staff, as well as policy specialists at UD's Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research.
"The results of this study show that the health of Delaware adults with disabilities is not in a good state, and there are services that are needed to help these citizens live healthier lives than they are currently," Riddle noted.
The study's 339 participants were recruited from state service enrollment lists, health-care facilities and health fairs. The majority (70 percent) were from New Castle County, with 19 percent from Kent County and nearly 11 percent from Sussex County. Most were unemployed or unable to work and earned less than $15,000 per year.