Disability and health status: Ethnic differences among women in the United States

Elena M. Andresen, Ross C. Brownson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Study objectives - There are few data describing disability and health status for ethnic groups. The disablement process involves social influences, which may include minority status. Cross sectional data were examined to investigate the relation of ethnicity to disability. Design - A stratified random digit dialled sample of women aged 40 and older. Disability and health status were measured as functional and activity limitations, work disability, and days of poor physical and mental health. Setting - United States. Participants - Women interviewed by telephone included 774 white, 749 African American, 660 Hispanic, and 739 Native American women. Main results - The prevalence of disability was higher among minority women when classified by general health status, and the need for personal care assistance. There was a striking excess of work disability: 3.5% of white women compared with 7.1% to 10.3% for minority women. The differences were reduced when adjusted for other risk factors and socioeconomic status. White and minority women reported more similar disability when it was defined by poor mental and physical health days. Conclusions - Disability is correlated with social and demographic characteristics as well as medical diagnoses. Ethnicity also is associated with disability and may be part of a social context for disablement. Future research should concentrate on the temporal sequence of disability. Consistent definitions of disability will facilitate this research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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