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Using Survey Data to Study Disability: Results from the National Health Interview Survey on Disability

Research in Social Science and Disability

Author: Altman, B. M., Barnartt, S. N. , Hendershot, G. E., Larson, S. A.
Year: 2003
Type: Edited Book


The 1994–95 National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D), which was the first nationally representative survey dedicated to disability issues, recorded information on a wide range of areas which could be interpreted as indicators of disability. It was one of the most comprehensive and complex surveys ever designed to measure the prevalence of impairment, limitations in physical functioning, and role limitations associated with disability. Previous surveys did not match the NHIS-D in terms of breadth of coverage, sample size or detail. This book begins with a description of the development and production of the NHIS-D, discussing methodological features such as sample design, data weighting, sampling error, data processing and the dissemination of results. There is also dialogue about additional methodological concerns, including non-response patterns, missing data and prevalence estimates. Work and health care for disabled adults are also examined. Several chapters are devoted to obstacles to work, barriers to preventative care, and the importance of insurance for mobility-impaired adults. A focus on developmental disability is also incorporated, with discussions of competing definitions, economic costs across the lifespan, unmet support needs and effects on siblings. In addition, the book contains explanations of specific populations such as Native Americans and adult women with developmental disabilities. Topics such as the importance of the time of onset, duration of disability and health status are considered, too. This effort based on the NHIS-D will undoubtedly be very useful for the surveillance of a wide range of disability-related issues, but it still contains flaws. The NHIS-D could be criticized for failing to incorporate sufficient measures that relate to a social model of disability popular among disability studies scholars and disability activists. Instead, there is a tendency to focus on environmental barriers. Although the editors briefly mention this omission in their introductory chapter, an additional chapter highlighting these concerns and examining the ramifications of this omission would have been useful.

Further Details

Volume 3
Accession Number November, 2010
Notes The book is incomplete
Keywords Disabled

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